With Spring term hurtling forward, there is only one obstacle facing us before our final release to summer: EXAMS. For freshmen, exams are a mysterious and intimidating concept. The class of 2018 will be stepping into the gym and taking a seat amongst a large crowd of anxious students for the first time. On the other hand, the pressure is on for us poor seniors. These are the last high school exams we will be taking and often the last grades that colleges see before deciding upon our acceptance. For two hours, we have the opportunity to display our knowledge concerning what we have learned in a certain subject throughout the past six months. The task is daunting and the three days from June 1st to 3rd are pressure packed. I will share some tips that I have picked up over the years to calm your nerves, ensure that you survive these exams, and that ultimately allow you to attain success and perform to your best ability.
1. Eat Well- As before a big game or race, eating unhealthy, junk food is not advised before exams. Doing so will drain you of energy and leave you feeling bloated. In order to perform well, it is vital that you take care of your body, which includes eating well. Berries, for example, are a great snack as they contain lots of vitamin C, which is said to improve agility in the brain. Similarly, any food with protein such as eggs, nuts or cheese will help with mental alertness and keep you feeling full longer. Make sure you eat a balanced meal before an exam. Skipping lunch to study will have detrimental effects on your performance the same way scarfing down four snug cookies on the way to the exam would.
2. Plan Ahead- Writing out what you have to do helps you mentally prepare. Whether it be a study for a test or finishing a paper, actually having a plan to follow makes your goals seem that much more attainable. Starting the weekend before finals, when teachers can no longer assign new work, map out a game plan. This simple effort can have incredible impacts on the final product. One hour a day on each subject, or perhaps one chapter a day, may work best for you and will be extremely effective. This way, you will ease some of the stress and feel more prepared as time for exams comes closer. In addition, it feels pretty satisfying to check off certain concepts everyday and see yourself moving towards a finish line.
3. Reward yourself- After seemingly endless hours with your nose in the books, it may seem like the end will never come. Rest assured, it will, but until then give yourself small rewards along the way. A little bit of sugar never hurt anybody. So, perhaps treat yourself to one Hershey Kiss for every page you write of your history paper. Or, tell yourself that if you finish three subjects of work, you can watch one episode of Gossip Girl. Indulging in these small breaks is not a problem and often makes your work time more efficient. Just make sure when you are working to shut Netflix off and place your phone out of reach, thus minimizing the temptations.
4. Sleep- Nothing is more discouraging than getting a math test back and realizing that all the points you lost were results of silly mistakes. Especially when those mistakes could have been prevented with an extra hour or two of sleep. During finals, sleep is vital. Though it is easy to believe that the longer you study the more you will know, I am telling you that once the clock strikes twelve, that is not the case. In one hour, you will complete what you could do in ten minutes with a clear head, and your sense of efficiency will disappear. One more hour of sleep, however, would help you to focus more on that passage in the English final or stay on topic in that APUSH DBQ. If you plan ahead and manage your time well, there is no excuse for staying up into the late hours of the night. Eventually your lack of sleep will catch up to you and your struggle to stay awake will end up detracting from your ability to take the exam, making it that much more difficult. As Erin Jones will tell you, nothing is more important than the night before the night before. So, please, allow yourself at least eight hours of sleep per night.
5. Move- I understand that finals means sitting at a desk, hunched over books, preparing and devoting time to studying. Ten hours of sitting at a desk, however, will leave both your mind and body in frazzled states. I recommend that you get up and move around for at least one hour every day. Maybe you could go on a run, or a walk with friends. Perhaps, you can play some squash or basketball between tests. Although it may seem like the best idea after finishing one exam is to start cramming for the next, this philosophy is faulty. After a certain amount of studying, your mind starts to wander and it is hard to stay focused. Exercising and moving serve as great outlets for the anxiety and stress you build up during finals. Hitting the books after a workout will allow you to focus more on your work and help you a more efficient studier. Plus, your hot bod will thank you for it.
With exam week just around the corner, the workload and nerves are building up. Just remember, you will survive your exams, everybody does. You have already learned this material, nothing is new, and now is just an opportunity to display your mastery of each subject. Like the old saying goes, “don’t be scared, be prepared.” Good luck and I will see you on the other side!