“Schools out. For. Summer! Schools out. For. Ever!”
Well, not yet.
If you’re like me, you’re in the home stretch before moving on to bigger, greater things. School sucks, everyone knows it, and you’re getting taught things you don’t want to learn, and if you’re part of a sports team or some other extra-curricular activity, you might not be getting home until well past five PM everyday.
Let’s not forget all the stress and pressure of high school social life, and trying to deal with dating and parties and friendship and all that while keeping your grades up.
Don’t even get me started on trying to understand the new slang everyone is supposed to pick up, so let’s “get lit” and hit the “Uptown Pokes” and blow some sweet “Juul” on the haters- you know what? Forget I said any of that.
First and foremost, understanding how you should be approaching your classes will make you feel more confident when you get to the finals. If you can try to sit closer to the front of the class- studies show that students who sit closer to the front and engaged more and less easily distracted.
Personally, the second row from the front is my optimal position. I’m close enough to be engaged, but I’m still not in the front row.
Secondly, note taking is incredibly important. There are hundreds of different styles you can find on the internet, and they’re not “wrong”, but some are more suited to certain individuals than others.
I personally prefer bullet point notes. I just quickly jot down the important things and paraphrase everything.
I almost never copy anything down verbatim, and out of what’s left I highlight the very important bits of information with highlighters. It’s not neat, and it’s illegible to anyone but myself, but why should I care? These are MY notes, and so long as I can pull out the important material at a glance, I’ve succeeded in my note-taking.
Studying the material you’ve learned in class is a tricky skill.
Personally, I hate staring at my notes for hours on end (which is why I make everything concise and highlight the important bits), and studies show that studying for hours on end really doesn’t help.
A study of college students showed that students who studied for more than two hours the day before a test only did marginally better than those who didn’t- and some did worse. So “cramming” for the test can actually be detrimental to your grade.
If you’re looking for alternatives to studying notes, here are some ideas. Personally, I’ve always been a fan of project-based learning, especially ones that really allow room for creativity. For a book report, I once made a reenactment of a scene from Catcher in the Rye in Minecraft- the one where the main character gets beat up by a Pimp.
So if your teacher gives you the option, dive into a project of some sort, and let your imagination run wild.
Some subjects, unfortunately, can really only be learned through rote practice.
Solving math problems is by far the most effective way to learn math, and so, even if it hurts you to your soul, do the math homework. It really will make a difference. If you’re incredibly lucky and don’t get math homework, then find some problems in your book and do them on your own.
There are plenty of websites that can show you the solution to the problem, with steps to solve it, on the internet if you get stuck.
Lastly, what should you do the day of the test?
Well, don’t cram beforehand. It’ll only stress you out. You either know the material at this point, or you don’t.
If you can, bring a bottle of water to drink. Drinking water will keep you refreshed and calm you down if you’re stressing out.
Depending on the test, you don’t always need to do the questions in order. If you don’t know the answer to one question, skip it and come back to it later. It’s better to finish the rest of the test than to get stuck on question one for two hours, right? Just don’t forget the question you skipped! That happened to me once… whoops.
One Last Piece of Advice
At the end of the day, remember; you don’t need 100%. You should always shoot for the top, sure, but don’t freak out because you only get 99%. Or 89%. Or even 79%. Just tell yourself, “alright, this is good, but next time I’ll do even better!”