Finessing Finals: a Review and a Guide for These Trying Times


Connor McKee Sargent

FRENZIED FINALS! It is a busy time but it will definitely pay off in the end.

Abigail Lee, Staff Writer

Do you hear that creepy sound in the air? The school is buzzing with the steady caffeinated hum of sleep deprived students. The noise of shuffling papers like the flutter of birds in flight as choirs of pencils steadily scratch away. The first half of the year is coming to a close; grades are freezing to a permanent form, and teachers are harassed by the many who are desperate for a boost or a curve. It is a hectic time, it is a stressful time, but it is one we know so well. Finals, have come and steered Issaquah High School’s first semester out with an exhausting bang.

If end of semester finals could be described as a film genre, a thriller flick would match perfectly. It is always in the corner of the eye, it seems so far yet it reaches closer and ever so closer until, “BAM!” It is Jan. 19, you have not touched anything from unit one and the closest thing you have to a study guide is a half-filled out vocab list on Quizlet. Oh the horror! How can your grade point average survive this trial of odds? Following these key tips archived from online sources and the minds of students at Issaquah may hopefully break the fall. Junior Aedan Henry says that for him, “finals are mostly about remembering information rather than learning it” and how he prepares is by “reviewing notes from earlier in the semester and doing practice problems.” A common trend among other students as seen with Junior Mera Cosson, who says, “I study by reviewing old homework and tests. I highlight over my old notes and review past Quizlet sets too.” In The Princeton Review’s article, “How to Study for Finals,” they wrote, “Study in this order: A) definitely, B) probably, C) might be on the final. Don’t just start from the beginning of your notes and try to cram everything in: think about what you know for sure will be on each test and review that material first.” Not only is this valuable advice, it is also an important key tip that is often forgotten in the rush of late nights and cram sessions. Sophomore Rebekah Rahman highlights how she studies up and says, “I make comprehensive study guides and re-write my notes. I remember facts better when I write them.” Through all these valid statements of guidance, one may truly dominate them all. In an interview with Teen Vogue for the article, “10 Essential Study Tips for Final Exams,” Colin Gruenwald who works for Kaplan Test Prep says, “Within 12 to 24 hours of the test, it’s time to stop studying–You’re not going to learn a lot of new content. The likelihood is much higher that you’re going to stress yourself out and confuse yourself. For the last minute studier, flashcards can be a good resource. They can earn you a few more points on test day, and it’s a much healthier thing to do than starting on page one of the textbook.”

One of the less academic ways that the school experiences finals is through Issaquah High’s associated student body involvement. This year was another arrival of the “finals care packages” from ASB, which to many, was a delightful perk to the stressful time. Although Rahman did not buy one herself, she says, “I would [buy a care package] in the future, I think it’s a nice way to treat yourself.” The original packs carried fruit gummies, pencils, and other mood raising goodies. Some recommendations for next year’s items by students came from sophomore Sam Anderson who wants the pack to contain,”Food, food again. Fruitsnacks, a blanket, and my stuffed penguin Waddles.” Another suggestion came from Cosson who basically says, “a Blanket, a word search or a book of choice, pencils or pens, water, and some snacks.” all items that sound like they could make finals feel more comforting. ASB once again came through this year with their first “Finals Screech” on this last Wednesday, Jan. 23. Although I personally did not get to experience such a raw moment of pure energy, kudos to those who brought such a thrilling activity together. If you too missed the time to screech, worry not, for the joy of free will is that you can technically scream anywhere you want to, at any time. So go ahead, run to your nearest window, pillow, sink or shower, and just screech your absolute heart out. Of course, do not forget to give anyone in ear-shot a heads up first.

Finals brings forth an abundance of emotions. Stress, fear, a deep existential questioning of your own intelligence, all of those normal healthy thoughts. But is the stress of finals worth the result? Do the results of your finals scores reflect on your proficiency in the subject? Senior Joanne Lo comments on the usefulness of finals, and says, “To some extent finals are worth the stress because it tests if you can remember topics from a while back and apply them properly.” And in a similar statement, Anderson says, “I think it does go to test how well you retain information.” Both are strong points considering that the final tests are meant to evaluate how you have been doing and comprehending in the various classes. But Henry says, “I think tests as a whole are the best way to evaluate knowledge. It’s certainly not perfect, some people are naturally better test takers than others, but I think tests are the best that we can do. However, finals themselves seem unnecessary to me. If we’ve already taken unit tests throughout the semester, why do we have to be tested on the material again?” Freshman Mitchell Wilson argues for the same point, saying “I don’t think finals match how much you know because there could be so many other factors that can change or happen and it makes for a stressful time which affects your grade.” No matter the side of the debate you stand on, finals are not leaving anytime soon, so picking up the pencil and getting on a study plan does not hurt anyone.