The Finals Countdown: Teachers offer study tips, advice as winter finals approach


Maddie Davis, Co-Editor

We all hear the same thing from the teachers when finals time rolls around — study well, get good sleep the night before, eat a good breakfast, etc. I know when I hear a teacher start going off on one of those spiels about studying, I tend to tune them out because I’ve only heard the information about five million times before. And, that stuff is pretty obvious, but what about some less obvious study tips?

1. Alternate Study Spaces 

It is scientifically proven that alternating study spaces is a better way to retain information. Different environments can enhance brain activity. You could study at the library, a coffee shop, your friend’s house, or just anywhere quiet where you can focus.

2. Changing the Subject 

Change the subject of the information that you are studying — it’s not a good thing to immerse yourself in one area of knowledge for too long. If you stay on one subject for too long, your brain will get bored and wander away from the information you’re trying to study. Changing the information keeps your mind focused.

3. Study When Tired 

Instead of looking through Instagram and Twitter one last time before going to sleep, study your notes. During sleep, the brain strengthens new memories, so, chances are, if you review right before sleeping, you’ll remember the information better. Just be sure not to study while lying in bed — you might fall asleep while studying.

4. Drink Cocoa 

Hot chocolate is chock full of antioxidants and cognitive mood enhancers. Mix a big spoonful of organic cocoa in a mug of hot milk to make the perfect, brain-powering hot chocolate. You can also add cinnamon and espresso for a burst of energy.

5. Exercise 

Just 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day can enhance your memory skills. It’s even better to exercise outside — it gives your brain a nice break and helps you relax.

6. Use Color 

Highlighting and underlining your notes with color has been scientifically proven to help your brain better recall the information. However, don’t just go crazy with color — only highlight the things that are very important to remember instead of the entire page of notes.

Tips for Social Studies — Jenny Buchanan 

1. “Consider watching a credible YouTube video on the topic, such as Crash Course with John Green or Khan Academy videos.”

2. “If you’re writing an essay, prepare an outline of what you’re going to say including specific examples. Make up an acronym or a silly story from the first letter of each point in your essay.”

3. “Make flashcards for important people and events. Don’t just include vague information on the back. Write who, what, when, where and why to adequately cover the topic.”

Tips for Science — Manal Siam 

1. “Review learning targets and vocabulary for each chapter, and create an individualized review a or review game.”

2. “Start rationing time after we return from Thanksgiving break — only two weeks and two days [until finals] to prepare for individual chapters/units, so you have ample time for preparation before the final exam — one day per chapter, one weekend per three chapters, etc.”

3. “Be sure to feed yourself positive vibes as you enter final preparation mode.”

Tips for English Language Arts – Jennifer Balke 

1. “Make sure to plan out your study time, so you aren’t cramming right before.”

2. “Even if you think you can’t study for one class, don’t blow it off. There’s always things you can review.”

3. “Use the half-days and days off before finals to your advantage — these days are perfect to use for studying.”

Tips for Math — Jonathan Jost 

1. “Treat the final review like a test. Actually work the problems, and try to do them without the help of notes or friends.”

2. “Look at the mistakes you’ve made on previous tests. Either get them from the teacher or go to their room to look at them.”

3. “Look at review guides from previous tests.”