Pro Tips for Final Assessments

by Peter Bloch

The reckoning has come Aardvarks. It is time for us to rally and fight our demons (Final Assessments) and prove who really knows best.

In all seriousness, however, finals are coming up on us and I sure hope that everyone is preparing to ace their tests and submit highly intellectual papers and presentations for each of their classes.

I have compiled a list of professional tips and tricks for taking finals from each of the respective department heads at OES and some additional experts in their respective fields. They all want students to make sure to eat well and sleep, but in addition, here is what they had to say:

Mike Gwaltney, History Chair: “Our goal is for students to think and act like historians. Be brave, and interpret new ideas yourself.” Mike Gwaltney also told me that he highly encourages students to take a risk and draw their own conclusions to their findings. Both he and the history department hope that students can demonstrate their knowledge and historian abilities in the upcoming assessments.

Rick Rees, English Chair: “Don’t worry. The best writing comes from revisions. You might fall in love with something, but never be afraid to improve it.” All US students are required to take English during their four years at OES, so I wish the best of luck to everyone in their pieces of writing.

Corbet Clark, Religion Chair: “The secret to any final is to not to leave it to the last minute or procrastinate. Brainstorm and prewrite.” In our discussion, he told me that the essentials of writing analytical essays on religion is to find the underlying themes and uncover deeper meanings and interpretations.

Liz Weiler, Math Chair: “Spread out your study days. Practice by making study sheets and review note cards. Ask your teacher if you can bring in a note card.” Liz couldn’t stress enough to complete review sheets and packets, and that the math department takes their reviews very seriously. “They are sometimes harder than our finals,” said Liz.

Ryan Holland, Science Chair: “Spend half of your time reviewing material and half your time doing practice problems. It is better to actively practice types of problems that will be on a written exam than it is to passively read through old notes and quizzes.”

Chris Myers, Upper School Librarian: “Figure out where the best place is for YOU to study (as long as you’re not disturbing anyone else). Finals are all about time management. If it helps you be more productive, come to the library. If it helps, you can also go to the great hall. Be as efficient as you can, and again, get some sleep.”

Lastly, for those who are organizationally challenged (me), or those looking to improve and build upon their current study habits, OES’ tech department suggests a few tricks to improve efficiency:

1.) Monitor and improve your efficiency while studying online: Use a tool like Rescue Time to track your online activity/ time off-task, etc.  You might even set the Parental Controls on your computer to regulate your time online or to filter your web activity.

2.) Collaboration: Set up a Google Group for your study group in which you can post questions, tips, comments while you study.

3.)  Enable Offline Mode for your Google Drive account if you’ll be studying away from an internet connection but still want access to your Drive data.

4.) Mind-mapping/ Graphical Organization:  Use a graphical organizer to visually represent and organize data that you’re studying.  Students using OES-owned laptops might already have Inspiration installed, but there are many online mind-maps to choose from.

5.) Smart Calendaring:  Use your Google Calendar to plan out your study schedule, set study meetings with friends, or make a task/ to-do list.

6.) Free Microsoft Office Clone:  Not only useful during finals, if you don’t have a licensed copy of Microsoft Office, try OpenOffice, a free, legal alternative to Office.

7.) Use f.lux to dim the blue light on your computer screen at night so that studying before bed doesn’t negatively affect your sleep.
I wish nothing but the very best to you all during the finals week, and hope that you all give it your best shot and prove your knowledge to the community at large. Good luck Aardvarks!

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