It’s halfway through finals week. How are SAS students coping? Notes scrawled on flashcards; review sheets stuffed into backpacks. The library, usually noisy, is now an enforced chamber of silence and stress. In such a high-pressure school, stress abounds during these four days for both students and teachers. So what tips can we gain from our experienced classmates? I sat down with a range of students for some friendly advice:
“Stressed” was the most common response to how people were feeling about finals. Finals are weighted as 25% of the overall grade, and so it’s understandable that students feel at least a little pressure to prepare well. However, a less-than-stellar grade on your final won’t break a grade that you’ve worked for the whole semester.
Senior Roopal Kondepudi stated that another source of stress is how colleges will view the grades at the end of the semester. When applying, many schools require seniors’ end-of-year grades, placing extra pressure on seniors to do well. Juniors face their own sources of stress, with standardized tests and college applications around the corner.
Senior Emily Dolny stated that finals week causes her to “feel like I’m being challenged physically and mentally” and at the end of the four days, she feels “very tired.” Senior Sunita Srivatsan’s opinion on finals week is that she is “glad that it’s [her] last time doing it” and that this “most stressful finals week” in her high school experience. She states that this is because she has had “the least amount of time to prepare” due to the stress of college applications and her participation in multiple extracurricular activities. In comparison with April’s AP exams, which she says are “more spaced out” the fact that finals have to be completed within the space of four days is another source of stress.
However, there are a couple of pieces of advice for fellow students undergoing the stress of finals week. Freshman Nicholas Chu stated that he likes to “study two week in advance” can help you not feel so stressed with upcoming finals and “not break down the day before”. Sophomore Karthik Vempati said that taking “more breaks” but making sure that each of them was “shorter” helps him focus on the coursework that has to be studied for his upcoming semester exams.
Freshman Nathaniel Ahn also had a few tips for those studying math and science: going over class powerpoints and outlines can give students a helpful method of preparation.
As most students have figured out, the magical “number” — a 9-point representation of the semester’s grade — can tell you where you stand in terms of your grade and how well you “have to do” on your final to keep the grade you have. Junior Kai Suherwan’s advice to fellow students is to try and check this number for yourself — that way students will understand how to best allocate your time to different exams. Most teachers dislike this attitude, as it is often at odds with learning for the sake of learning rather than trying to achieve a grade.
Nevertheless, no matter how stressed you are at this moment, finishing finals marks the accomplishment something pretty incredible over the past semester: whether that’s acing your exam or simply surviving till Thursday noon, we’re halfway there. And that’s something to celebrate.