Seniors, teacher and counselor talk finals and AP study tips


Surrounded by cracked textbooks and peanut-butter-covered-apple slices, senior Bridget Cary sits down at her computer. Powering off her phone, she gets ready to study for the upcoming tests.

The dreaded week in May is when many students try to learn a semester’s worth of material in one night. To avoid the stress of finals, counselors, teachers and seniors advise against cramming.



One of the most beneficial things a student can do to prepare for finals is get ready for them early. Counselor Joel Frederick advises students not to put off their studying until the last minute.

“If you can, over the course of a semester, review material as you go,” Frederick said. “It’s a lot easier to retrieve it when it comes time to do your final review.”

Frederick says going over material on a daily or weekly basis can help improve test readiness.

Cary plans out her nightly studying while preparing for finals.

“What I’ve found really helpful is just writing out a schedule for the night and being realistic about it, giving myself breaks and not spending too much time on the same subject, but making sure everything gets done,” Cary said.

After each school day, Cary reviews the new material she learned in class. On finals week, she digs in and does “hard core studying.”

Although technology can often become a distractor while studying, senior Cade Wright uses it to his advantage.

Wright uses iTunes U, an educational subsect of iTunes, as well as other websites such as Slader, a math website, to study.

Wright recommends students talk to their teachers if they are confused about any of the material.

“If you have any questions, really just ask your teacher because they will go through and explain what you need to know,” Wright said. “They’re there to help you.”

Other than studying, students can take other measures such as getting ample sleep and eating sufficient amounts of food to make sure they are ready for finals.

Additionally, Cary spends less time with friends during finals week since she believes they should be studying as well.

Having clear notes for each class is also important. Frederick says that students should follow a pattern while taking notes.

“It doesn’t have to be Cornell Notes or anything like that, but something that is consistent from week to week…” Frederick said.


AP Exam:

Although preparation for the AP exam is similar to finals preparation, there are some differences.

The AP teachers often mimic aspects of the AP exam in their classes to assist students.

“Any sort of modeling of testing procedures or modeling old tests is really valuable,” Frederick said.

Students can also prepare independently by utilizing old AP questions on the College Board’s website.

Senior Lawrence Chen, who has taken AP Calculus BC, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Chemistry, AP Physics B, AP Statistics and AP Music Theory, suggests using Princeton Review books to study for the AP exam.

“I know the Enrichment Resource Office has all of those books, so you can just go and check them out at the beginning of the year,” Chen said. “Take a look at them if you want.”

Princeton Review books divide subject material into different sections, and each section has practice problems at the end. AP Chemistry teacher Jordan Rose urges students to complete the problems to test their comprehension.

“Because then if you do really well on it, you don’t have to study it versus if you kind of struggle with it, that’s obviously something you need to start focusing on a little bit more,” Rose said.

After taking many AP exams himself, Chen has an extensive repertoire of test-taking tips. He advises students to create the most realistic testing atmosphere possible while practicing.

“… Like don’t eat chocolate if you’re not gonna eat chocolate on the test,” Chen said. “Or don’t listen to music because if music helps you concentrate, you’re not gonna have music during the test.”

Proper amounts of sleep, nutrition and hydration are all factors that can improve performance during the AP exam.

“I mean test fatigue … that’s always a factor,” Rose said. “… During the test, bring something to snack on, chew some gum, get something that’s gonna keep you going throughout the course of the test.”

Regardless of the other factors, preparation is still most important.

“Definitely don’t cram,” Frederick said.