Preparing for Finals? Students and Graduates Speak About Their Best Studying Techniques


Ryan Nguyen

Finals are next week. Still not prepared? AP U.S. History got you down like President Hoover during the Great Depression? Is biology draining the energy from your mitochondria? Economics homework making you compare the marginal benefits versus the marginal costs of skipping class … again? Don’t worry, read on to discover how these experienced students study hard in order to play hard.

 

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Some students at Aloha High School study by using inventive memorization devices, ranging from songs to acronyms to making up stories in their heads. However, Noah Petrovich, a senior, has something different in mind. “When I study for finals, a lot of the time I’ll do something that’s repetitive, right? So I can remember things.

“I’ll chew gum or something, like a certain flavor of gum. I remember in math last year, I would specifically chew this one flavor of gum so I would remember [what to do], and (…) on the final I [chewed] the same piece of gum, because it’s linked in my mind to what I was doing [on the final].”

It’s better if you define it in your own words; so a textbook definition is not gonna help you because your brain’s not gonna memorize it. You gotta make your own definition of it.

Belen Mendoza, an AHS graduate and current Portland State University student, explained a great way to retain vocabulary terms. “You make three columns in your notebook, “T” for Term, which is where you put your words, [“D” for] Define, where you define it. It’s better if you define it in your own words; so a textbook definition is not gonna help you because your brain’s not gonna memorize it. You gotta make your own definition of it.

“And the “A”, Apply, where you [use that word in a sentence]. Either that, or there’s also TDP [where] you draw a Picture of it [instead]. It doesn’t have to be a picture of the thing necessarily. It could just be something like, say a zebra and the [term] could be carpet, but you draw a zebra, and every time you think of zebra on the test you [correlate] zebra with carpet and [its definition].

“Vocab is usually very important during courses where you have to [know] a lot, like [on] FRQs or multiple choice,” she emphasized.

Naomi Grant, another senior, absolutely loves mnemonic devices. “They are so useful. Like for a biology test, one of the mnemonic devices I used was PMAT [prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase] (…) I remembered M = middle, A = away, and T = two (…) it helps if you imagine some sort of image in your mind when trying to remember things. Like for PMAT, I imagined some small child in preschool peeing on a mat.”

You can listen to a little bit of background music, but don’t go with like hardcore trap music or like Destiny’s Child, ‘cause you’re just gonna be sitting there turning up the whole time, and that’s not gonna be helpful.

However, some popular ways to study don’t work for everybody. “Music,” Petrovich said disdainfully. “Music doesn’t work at all. Like, trap music, don’t listen to trap music; it’s not helpful. You can listen to a little bit of background music, but don’t go with like hardcore trap music or like Destiny’s Child, ‘cause you’re just gonna be sitting there turning up the whole time, and that’s not gonna be helpful.

“Start early,” Petrovich added bluntly. “Don’t do it the last night. Don’t do it the week before. Do it ahead of time and do it in advance.”

“Having too many distractions, like your phone, I cannot stress that enough,” agreed current Pacific University student, Ashley Martinez. “It’s a real big distraction.

“I recommend preparing for finals at least two weeks [beforehand!] (…) Don’t overthink stuff, don’t make it more difficult than it needs to be.” Martinez paused. “Believe in yourself!” she smiled. “[And] have confidence.”

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