During the weeks leading up to Winter Break, holiday spirits are in the air–as well as the grueling preparation for finals. Finals week for many students is a time when sleep dwindles day by day and stress levels soar.
“For finals I tend to spend a lot of my time studying either in the library by myself, or meet with a friend and quiz each other,” senior Jasmine Casillas said. “Getting a good amount of sleep is always preferred, but sometimes that doesn’t work out too well, so I just try to get to bed as soon as I can.”
Although finals can be stressful, English teacher Eleanor Neagley says the stress can be a positive.
“Finals are inherently stressful, no doubt about it,” she said. “They count even more in college, so getting used to the pressure in high school is a very good thing.”
Many students study for finals a few weeks or just a week beforehand, but biology teacher Timothy Peevyhouse says that finals should not be something to be scared of, since they are reviews of material already covered in class.
“Students should be actively engaged in learning throughout the semester. When you treat learning as an opportunity for true understanding, not just memorizing, then the final exam is not something to be dreaded,” Peevyhouse said. “If you find yourself saying, ‘how am I supposed to remember something from the beginning of the semester?’ then you probably never truly understood it in the first place.”
Before taking a final, many students review notes and previous tests to refresh their memory.
“To study for finals, I like to write my own study guides,” junior Lauren Duan said. “I’ll write down some questions that I feel would best reflect the subject and try to answer them using any sort of knowledge I have.”
Teachers are at school to help, and they recommend students be proactive in asking questions when they are confused about anything any time before the day of the final.
“Keep up in the class and clear up any confusion as you progress in class,” Neagley said. “We teachers want our students to do well, and we are available for extra help. The Academic Center on campus is an amazing resource with free tutoring, so take advantage of it.”
In addition to reviewing material and seeking help from different resources at school, getting enough sleep is crucial.
“Getting enough sleep is very important. Go to bed early, and get up early. If you get up early enough, study for the final that day,” Japanese teacher Naoko McHale said. “I learned from my experience that studying early in the morning was much more effective than late at night.”
Although the stress during finals week is tough, teachers believe the week is beneficial.
“Final exams are a rite of passage that gives students a chance to demonstrate mastery of concepts that they may not have understood the first time around,” Peevyhouse said. “They also allow you to make big-picture connections that you may not have made when topics were presented individually throughout the semester.”
“Having a duty-free Winter Break is worth the time and stress of finals week,” Neagley added. “Reward yourself when it is over and have fun! Enjoy the respite from school and relax.”