By Angela B.
AngelaWe’re all familiar with finals season. Most teachers give you notice all year about their final exam. They tell you the things that might appear, give you a multitude of study guides, and yet the final exam always sneaks up on you when you’re least expecting it. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Everyone feels the antsy, jittery rush of May and June.

Like clockwork, spring surprises us all and even more so our children. So how do we offer our support? How do we help students prepare?
Welcome parents and kids to Finals Preparation101!

As Seneca would say, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

Preparation is the foundation for everything in life. As we meet challenges in life, how are we best able to succeed? PREPARATION. You may never be able to shake those nerves, but you can definitely combat the stress by being prepared and ready to meet the next obstacle.

Help your kids prioritize their final grades and the time it takes to prepare for something they really want. If you demonstrate these values and help them work towards their goals, there’s a dual opportunity for resilience and role modeling.

Step 1
Make a list of your final exams:
→ Seems pretty straight-forward, but putting pen to paper (or digital paper, such as a google doc) is the first step in any puzzle
→ Note what each exam entails: Does it have multiple sections? Is it on multiple days? What is required for the final–an essay, multiple choice, and oral exam? How many points is it worth? What percent of your grade?

Step 2
Make a calendar with the finals schedule:
→ Make sure it’s hourly so you can really visualize the day: Will it be your third final in a row? Will you need a snack? Is it a light day where you have some time to study prior?
→Color code subjects so it’s easy to see at a glance
→ For ideas on how to build calendars on all the various platforms, check out our blog on executive functioning: Executive Functioning: How To Help With Organization.
→ Check out this organized calendar for some ideas on how to break the study plan down weekly: 17 Study Hacks For Acing Your Finals

Step 3
Now break down each subject methodically:
→ Since you have details on each exam at this point, you can easily map out the demands of each final
→ Figure out how much feasible time you have for daily finals studying–it’s better to aim for 25 mins per subject per day than to cram in four hours over two days
→ I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro Method, especially for students working with limited time…if you’re not familiar with this method, read up at: The Pomodoro Technique — Why It Works & How To Do It.
→ Remember retention comes from repetition—think this way as you plan out your schedule, cramming will not get you A’s
→ Assess your schedule and energy levels during the morning and night, most likely you have more time after school to work, but if you have a wealth of energy in the morning this could be a great time to wake up early and study
→ Find what study methods work best for you, then follow them: Are you a flashcard person? Do you prefer to use premade quizlets? Do you like to go back through your notes and highlight things? Do you review old tests and quizzes? Do you make flow charts or retell the information in a speech? Be mindful of what works well for you and cut the fat. If you spend hours making flashcards and you feel like it’s a waste, then cut it from your routine. Everyone learns in different ways and it’s important to maximize your time by knowing yourself.

Step 4
Hold yourself accountable:
→ Find a finals buddy, preferably someone who you trust, who pays attention in class, and also wants to do well on their exams, meet with them multiple times per week
→ Check in with your family–can someone be your study partner? Maybe they can help you read flashcards or quiz you on your notes?
→ Meet with your teachers regularly in the next month or so before finals
→ Stend weekly office hours with each teacher
→ Bring new questions to the table during every session
→ Look back in your text at earlier chapters you might have misunderstood
→ Ask questions, ask for study guides, ASK anything and everything EARLY
→ Teachers really value students who strive for success, let them help you by getting to know you and guiding you down the right study path
→ For more ideas on how to attend office hours and “make friends” with your teacher, check out our blog post: End of Semester: Ways to Boost Your Grade.

Step 5
Let it go:
→ Once you’re days away from the big exam, at some point you just need to let it go
→ Take a bath, eat that candy you’ve been craving, find your inner Zen goddess
→ By holding anxiety about your test, you only make matters worse. Know that you have done all you could to prepare and wear your confident smile proudly