Ready, get set… study!

Jan. 10, 2006, midnight | By Merlyn Deng | 15 years, 9 months ago

Students, teachers share study tips and habits

Blazers sit quietly at home. Moody, if not hostile, they have stopped seeing friends, talking and going to parties or to after-school activities. Instead, they hide themselves from the world, occasionally venturing out of their rooms for a snack or break. The explanation for this behavior is simple, if not a bit daunting: exam week is almost upon us.

Yes, Exam Week, the dreaded time of year when students sit through 2-hour exams for almost every subject, and the impact exams have on grades is prominent. Final exams make up 25 percent of a semester grade, which means they can make or break a student's transcript.

In an informal survey of 100 students taken on Jan. 6 during 5B lunch and after school, only 41 percent of students said they had begun studying for this semester's final exams, which begin Jan. 13. But there is no need to despair; there are plenty of ways to ready yourself.

Organizing, getting academic help

The first step to doing well is getting organized, according to sophomore Austin Jacobson. Jacobson recently bought a pocket-planner after experiencing a fall in his grades and has noticed that it helps him stay organized. "It works better for me because I can pull it out of my pocket," he says. "It keeps my mind straight."

Organization is just the first step of the studying process. After this initial step, there is no limit to the types of studying methods students use and teachers recommend.

The adage "two heads are better than one" applies to many recommended studying methods. Science teacher Brita Johannessen says, "Study with a group of friends." Ana Ramos, a junior, agrees but believes that students should broaden the number of people they study with. "Stay after class to talk to your teachers about what you don't know, or talk to your friends," she says. Ramos also suggests going to departmental academic support – schedules and locations may be found here – which have schedules convenient for all students.

Social studies teachers George Vlasits and James Mogge hold an annual study skills workshop specifically geared for 9th grade CAP students. Although the workshop is for CAP freshmen only, Vlasits emphasizes that these study skills are necessary for all students. "Students [need to learn] time-management, how to get more out of reading the textbook, how to study, how to take notes and [how to develop strategies] for writing essays," he says.

Despite Vlasits's list of important study skills, he boils it all down to one major piece of advice: "Studying and cramming are not the same thing. The key to doing well is to learn the material well the first time," he says. According to Vlasits, cramming is the biggest error that students make. "When you're studying for a final, you're simply trying to review," he says.

The unconventional and the lucky

In addition to using conventional study techniques like reviewing and taking notes, other Blazers have tried more unique approaches to help them nail their toughest subjects. Senior Danielle Freebourne has a musical approach to help her with difficult math tests and exams. "I make up songs," she says. "It helps me memorize concepts and formulas."

While Blazers may not have Harry Potter's "Felix Felicis" potion to help them ace exams or accomplish awesome feats with unshakable confidence, some students do have other superstitions that they believe will help them on exam day. Freshman Novian Haynes has faith in his hair. "I grew out my hair for luck to help me on the exams," he says, showing off his Afro.

Although freshman Xenia Oroxom does not have a voluminous hairdo to enhance her test-taking abilities, she does possess various lucky charms to reinforce her studying. "I go to math help and I have a good luck t-shirt and good luck earrings," she says.

Oroxom says that her charms do not actually make her lucky, but they make her feel more secure about her subjects. "They make me more confident," she says. "When you have something lucky, you feel you can do anything as long as you study."

All of these things come down to one thing: Exam day. Regardless of how much studying, organizing or luck invested for an exam, Johannessen offers one piece of advice that is essential to all would-be successful test-takers: "Remember to get sleep and eat breakfast."

Merlyn Deng. Merlyn (Mer - LEEN) has an unhealthy fixation on Silver Chips Online, the Silver Chips Manifesto, red pens and serial commas. When not editing stories and racking her brain for SCO and its readers, she may be found haunting Blair's hallways or downtown Silver Spring. … More »

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