How to study for finals

Posted: December 16, 2016

Homework Helpers lend experience to freshmen facing first finals

It was the first test in the intense physics class, and freshman Alex Brown wasn’t sure if he was prepared. He studied long and hard but something just wasn’t right. When he showed up for the test he was nervous. Not because he didn’t study enough because he wasn’t studying the right way.

“I was studying a long time but I still just didn’t feel confident in what I knew.” Brown said. He did end up struggling but learned from his mistakes.

Many people have trouble with tests, not because they don’t study enough but because they’re doing it incorrectly. Fortunately, experienced students at Minnehaha are available to help younger students learn and study more efficiently.

“The worst thing you can do is to not study, especially not for finals because you know for sure that you can’t retake it, so it’s very dangerous,” said senior Elliot Dorow Hovland, a member of Homework Helpers, a student intern group that assists younger students who seek their insights.

Senior homework helper Kenny Kiratli added: “Just be prepared. If you’re prepared for your final, it will boost your grade.” 

The Homework Helpers work with students especially during Enrichment Hour on Tuesday mornings in a conference room near the Student Services office. If anyone needs help, there is always someone waiting to help them.

When preparing for tests, Dorow Hovland said, “it’s more important to study things you don’t know, but it is still important to go over the things you do know, or understand.”

“I don’t study information and concepts as much as techniques,” he added. “When I’m studying for tests, I like to drill practice problems rather than memorizing theorems.”

He said would rather know everything decently instead of knowing half it very well and half not very well.

Director of Special Academics Services Elaine Ekstedt, who also helps students in all grades learn how to learn, said that important principle of approaching academic work is, “Don’t just do it, learn it.”

She emphasized the importance of understanding how to do a particular academic task and to recognize why it is they way it is.

Ekstedt offered several study tips:

  • The more senses that you can use, the more you will understand the material.
  • When studying maps, use color because it makes it easier to identify where the countries are.
  • Read the material out loud so that you can hear it, because if you’re a verbal learner it will help you understand it more.
  • Eat and sleep well before and on a test day, because your brain needs energy to work.
  • Review in little bits and plan your studying out so you can study bit by bit.
  • Make it easier on yourself during the test, maybe by writing down some equations you have memorized so you don’t have to think of them every time you need to use them.

For most students, the main problem isn’t actually the amount of studying they need to do; it’s how they study. By learning to study more efficiently, students can perform better with less stress. 

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