Exam prep

Erin Wronka, Editor-in-Chief

              It’s that time of the year for Pinellas County high school students once again. Winter break was a relaxing, refreshing two weeks of vacation, but now that everyone’s back in school, the stress is kicking in full force. Since the change in the midterm exam schedule two years ago, students are expected to return from winter break and take their semester exams. Not only has much material been erased from the minds of teens over the vacation, but the idea of two hour tests has proven to be a daunting challenge to face right off the bat in January. With this said, students see the idea of preparing for exams as a miserable task following such a great break. The only thing we can do as students is put 100% of our effort into studying and remember some of the key factors in effectively preparing for exams.

                1) Pick one place to study. This is one of those cliché tips we’ve seen on teachers’ posters in classrooms since we were in elementary school, but it truly is a helpful hint. If you set a certain study spot up, whether it be your room, the library, Starbucks, or wherever, you’re mind will begin to process that setting as the place to crack down and get working. It will become your comfort zone and your body will remain relaxed and less stressed the more you visit that place. Try out a few settings before you pick the right one; everyone has different tastes. Also, if you tend to get distracted by other people as I often do, just stick to somewhere in your own home. If you like hustle and bustle around you, then there’s more than enough places to try out.

                2) Set up a certain time of the day reserved for studying. Many of us have our ways of managing our schedule. I know mine is by listing “to dos” in my planner and if something’s written down, it gets done. With this in mind, if I set an hour to review my notes for exams and put it in my schedule, I’m much more likely to actually study. Make studying a requirement so your brain will know it must get done. For example, promise yourself that at 4 PM you’ll read your econ textbook. Keep telling yourself that and it will hopefully seem like an obligation when that time rolls around. Treat studying as if it’s your job or sports practice and that there would be severe consequences by not doing it.

                3) Set up a method of studying. This will vary for everyone; some love flashcards, others are straight crammers. By now you should know how your brain processes reviewing the best, so make the best of it. Don’t be discouraged by other people’s methods because everyone has different styles. Sometimes putting in that extra effort to try online review quizzes or highlighting old notes is what gets you the “A” in the end. For many, just straight reading notes and textbooks doesn’t allow your mind to process enough. On test day, you’ll end up with a bunch of jumbled up information that’ll be hard to translate into an answer for the questions.

                4) Determine if work best alone or with others. Some people absolutely cannot join study groups; there is just too much room for distraction in these cases. This is a valid point for a bulk of students, but I personally believe it depend on the subject. If I need a math problem worked out, having someone slowly go through the question with me helps my brain better process the information. I have found that I can usually help others with subjects like history, but if the curriculum is a lot of fact memorization, I struggle in a crowd. Again, this all varies with different people. One of the oldest tricks in the book (and of which teachers are very aware) is to ask those who have already taken the exam what kinds of questions are on it. Doing that doesn’t mean you’re cheating; it just gives you a better idea of what to expect. Letting others in on your exam experience makes it fair game.

                With the semester coming to an end, conclude it on an impressive note be acing those exams. Show your teachers you’ve truly learned something in their class, and proudly show your parent the flawless report card. My sophomore year, I did so badly on one exam that the final semester grade dropped down. I was so mad at myself and fully regretted not studying. Whatever happens, don’t let this be you. Finishing off the semester successfully is a great way to kick start the upcoming half of the school year.