Spring is finally here, the flowers are blooming, and your worst fear is around the corner: finals. Well, never fear, HSA Tutoring is here! my name is Mahlet, I am currently a rising sophomore at Harvard, and I just survived my first finals. Here are some of the tips and tricks I used to prepare myself:
How to Prepare for Finals
- Start early
This step is crucial. It may seem as if your exams are ages away, but don’t fall into this trap! You may end up having to shove 9 months’ worth of material into just one week. In fact, personally I like to start studying 2-4 weeks before my exams. Of course, this number may vary depending on how many classes you are taking and how much you already remember!
- Make a review sheet
This seems like a simple task, but making a review sheet for the entire year can actually be quite an intensive process. This step alone takes me several hours or days. I find that this is the point at which I begin organizing my thoughts and filtering through all the material I have from the year. I know this step is working when I start putting things into my own words, rather than simply regurgitating the textbook or professor. Making a review guide takes up a large bulk of my study time, but I find it to be the most crucial step.
- Write a battle plan
Now you’ve finally motivated yourself to study, have a study guide, and still have time before the test! What now? It’s time to come up with a plan of action; I like to think of my upcoming test as a battle, so this is the point at which I am scheduling my “training”. This “training” varies, and may consist of going over old tests, reviewing notes, re-doing homework, practicing extra problems from worksheets or the textbook, or simply reading them over. I always take the time to figure out which activities will be most beneficial to me in the time I have left, and as silly as it sounds, I literally take a planner, sticky note, or piece of paper, and write what study activities I will do each day. The most important part? Hold yourself to it.
- Learn what makes you tick
Simply put, you should learn what kind of environment helps you focus best. This is an important skill that will be useful throughout high school and college, and if you haven’t already, it’s time to develop it now! Personally, I enjoy doing math and similar subjects in a public setting, such as a library, with some chatter in the background. But when it comes to reading and the like, I need to bundle up alone in a comfy chair if I want to focus.
- Stay healthy!
The most important step: take care of your body as much as your mind! I make sure to go to the gym at least twice a week, get at least 8 hours of sleep a night, and always eat breakfast. Your brain will thank you!
Now go forth, and kill those finals!
Mahlet is a freshman at Harvard who is planning to concentrate in Astrophysics and receive a secondary in Computer Science and a language citation in German. She was born in Germany but was raised in Boston, where she graduated from Boston Latin School. During high school, she achieved perfect scores on two SAT II’s, six APs, and high scores on the SAT’s, and was given the National AP Scholar Award. Here at Harvard, in addition to tutoring for HSA, she is the Sophomore-Liaison for the Harvard College Astrophysical Society and an illustrator for Harvard College Children Stories (HCCS). In her spare time she loves drawing, reading, going for a run, and trying new food.