Flying Through Finals Week

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Students including Kristen Sayano (9) are doing their best to prepare for finals this week. “I feel prepared and a bit nervous,” Sayano admits. “Last year for Bio [Honors] finals I felt good about them, so I have a good feeling about this semester’s finals as well.” Photo courtesy of Kristen Sayano (9).

Alexssa Takeda, News Editor

   Semester one has come to a close, which signals the end of a stressful time for students as they prepared for finals week. Fortunately, there were a multitude of ways to cut down on that pre-finals panic.

   Instead of struggling through memorizing her textbook, Kristen Sayano (9) spent time tackling difficult practice problems to gauge her understanding: “I think [an] ‘I-want-to-understand-the-subject-and-truly-understand-the-main-ideas’ mentality is better than having [an] ‘I-need-to-get-a-good-grade’ mentality when studying for finals.” This way, Sayano could figure out which areas she needed to work on to perform her best during finals week. 

   Ripping through hundreds of pages of notes to find that one equation or crucial piece of information can be stressful. Students such as Khushi Kumra (12) found that prepping at the beginning of the semester alleviated a bit of that stress. “Throughout the semester, I create index cards,” she explained. “As the semester progresses, I add to them with new formulas and new theorems. So by the time it comes ready for finals I have all those ready to study.” 

     Most students have experienced academic burnout: that feeling of fatigue and the lack of motivation one gets after studying for long stretches of time. Colin Thekkinedath (11) gave his recommendation to avoid it, explaining, “During these periods of studying, I usually use the Pomodoro method which is 50 minutes of working and 10 minutes of rest to make sure I remain on task.” Traditionally, these time intervals, known as pomodoros, are 25 minutes of work, and five minutes of break. After four of these pomodoros, the breaks can be increased to about fifteen to twenty minutes. But it can always be customized to fit one’s studying style. But in all cases, this method aims to curb procrastination by breaking down tasks into smaller, manageable pieces. Thekkinedath found that this technique allowed him to maintain focus and finish work faster.

   As the Co-Secretary of West’s Tutorial Club, Thekinnedath also noticed that most students do best when utilizing more than one source. In the age of technology, there are millions of online resources that are just a few clicks away. Thekinnedath described, Oftentimes when the topic is presented to you in multiple ways it can help students understand the topic.” So if one explanation doesn’t make sense, he believes it is a good idea to keep searching for the one that makes that lightbulb go off. 

   Not only was one’s study method important, but learning effective time management skills were crucial. Julienne Nebrida (11), one of the Co-Captains of West’s Academic Decathlon, claimed the club helped her learn to stay organized: “I found myself with so many things that I had to keep track of between Acadec and my classes, which made me realize the importance of staying organized and focused.” Nebrida could avoid pulling all-nighters and take her time to digest each lesson. 

   There are multiple ways to structure a study session. But one obstacle that these students found most prominent when studying was getting distracted. It can be so tempting to take a quick look at Instagram or see what the For You page is offering today. But that five-minute break can easily turn into an hour. Thankfully, there is a super simple solution. “Something I’ve started doing recently is making use of the downtime and screen time functions on my phone,” Nebrida explained. “It allows me to set aside time for when I really have to focus on school and school only, which I think really helps me study more productively.” There are also apps such as Forest or Flowify which can help minimize distractions. 

      As a few final tips when it comes to sitting down to take that test, Kumra reminded students to pace themselves. “When you’re super nervous, especially for me, it’s easy for you to rush right through it. Try not to overthink, but check your work!” 

   With year-end finals only 20 weeks away, these are great tips to keep in mind.