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9 Tips for Studying for Finals in High School

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Wondering how to study for finals? You can get the most out of your study sessions with strategic planning upfront.

Here are the top tips our teachers recommend for studying for finals in high school! It’s time to create an action plan, retain the necessary knowledge, stay focused, and be ready to pass your tests confidently.

How To Study for Finals

1. Prioritize the tests that matter the most.

As most students know, all finals are not equal.

Some classes may need the extra boost of a good final test score while others are comfortable at their current grade. Students will also be more proficient or have an affinity for a subject over others. You as an individual need to determine where you need to allocate and commit your study time.

2. Understand the test formats.

And use them to your strengths!

Most teachers will gladly communicate what format the test will be in. From essay to multiple-choice to a presentation, your studying could be tailored to meet the expectations of each final format. Once you begin studying, bring any questions you have to your teachers. You’ll want to ensure your studying methods and subject focus will answer the asks of the test.

3. Plan ahead – at least one month!

Number one rule of passing tests…Be kind to yourself, and do not cram the night before.

Studying a little bit over a long period in digestible chunks is often the right way to study, especially when the test is cumulative. However, many students regret to look and plan ahead for final exams. The test may seem like a lifetime away, even though it’s usually only a semester.

The best time to start studying is at the beginning of the class. Set aside a little time each week to sit down and organize your notes and think about what’s going well and what’s going badly. Three to four weeks ahead of time is the latest that you want to create a study plan for yourself.

4. Make a study schedule you’ll stick to.

Don’t get lost in the mess of notes, messages, and endless scrolling. Define what you need to study before you get started. Without having set goals, you can easily lose track of time, jumping between your phone, computer, notes, and books. This method will only result in lost knowledge, disorganization, and a sense of confusion.

The best way to create an action plan is to get specific. Break your study schedule down by day, by subject, and give yourself time limits and goals to hit. Here’s an example or an afterschool study schedule:

  • 2-3 p.m.: Create an outline of periods/events of American history according to the study guide.
  • 3-3:30 p.m.: Take a snack break.
  • 3:30-5 p.m. Fill in the outline with class notes, highlights from your textbook, or videos from class.

Besides focus and organization, there’s another bonus to being specific: When you’ve completed your predetermined plan, pat yourself on the back and let yourself be done for the day.

Experts recommend breaking studying down into short, concentrated bursts with checklists. Make these tasks easily achievable and appreciate the satisfaction from checking them off the list. You’ll feel accomplished and satisfied at the end of each study session instead of being overwhelmed by everything you haven’t reviewed yet.

5. Practice, practice, practice tests.

Practice tests are your friend! Not only do practice tests help you work through a class’s worth of material, but they also make you more familiar with the exam structure, reducing any possible test anxiety.

Most teachers will provide you with all the material necessary to ensure you pass the final exam. Practice questions, essay topics, study guides, and online resources are provided to get all your ducks in a row. Remember, you can always ask if you believe you could use more resources to provide a clear pathway to test success.

6. Avoid multitasking – turn off your phone.

In the process of writing this article, we’ve had to avoid checking the pings happening from social and email notifications, text messages from friends and scrolling through TikTok. And it sure is tempting. However, the research is in, and multitasking is not something our brains can do well. You’re likely cheating yourself out of a great grade by splitting your attention.

If you’re spending the evening hitting the books, leave your laptop at home or try disconnecting the wifi to prevent unnecessary notifications. The same goes for smartphones, social media accounts, and whatever else might be a distraction. When you’ve settled in to study, it’s time to focus and absorb the information you’ll need. Notifications can wait!

7. Read out loud.

A big part of studying is just reading: finally reading that chapter you skipped, re-reading the material you felt shakiest on, reading over the notes you took months ago. To prevent your brain from becoming fuzzy and your eyes glazed over, start reading out loud.

It’s one of the oldest study hacks and one of the most effective, as it forces you to focus on every word. You’ll wake yourself up with your voice, and your brain will need to comprehend every word. And if that starts to get too easy, read upside down. Yes, turn your notes or book upside down and try to read it that way. It’ll slow you down, but you’ll truly concentrate on what you’re reading.

8. Attend all class reviews.

If your teacher is offering any reviews or study sessions, take advantage of them! Naturally, your teacher will focus on the material on the final, which will help you focus on the most important things. Plus, you can ask any teacher about anything you’re finding challenging.

9. Motivate yourself with rewards.

How do you stay motivated when you’re not in the mood to study? Treat yourself!

It’s unrealistic and unhealthy to think you’ll be able to review non-stop, so allow yourself valuable breaks as rewards. Chunking your review will make the material more digestible, you’ll be more driven to get things done since there’s a reprieve insight, and your brain will benefit from the refresh. 

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We tailor your high school experience to match your end goal. As a dynamic tuition-free public school, we offer more than another way to attend classes. We aim to provide the one-on-one attention many students need to excel.

Whether you want to earn college credit or get your diploma on a flexible schedule, Fairborn Digital Academy is here to help you achieve your goals.

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