The Finals Frontier


Photo by: Bryce Dearden

“For the past few days I’ve been studying, at least for math, five or six hours day. I would not recommend it for mental health or physical health,” said Yen Nguyen, junior. High school students around the country are currently in the midst of finals week, and many are preparing in different ways.

This week’s spike in StudentVue checks, maelstrom of late-work submissions, and increase in all-nighters are only a handful of the symptoms that accompany finals season. At Cam High and high schools everywhere, stress is visible upon the faces of students as they prepare for final exams and the end of first semester.

Many students feel overwhelmed by the weight of finals on their grades and the level of studying required to maintain or improve their grades. “I have borderline grades. For a lot of students, there’s a feeling that ‘I need to get an A’. There’s a sense of inevitable doom,” said Yen Nguyen, junior.

“[Finals are going to] make-or-break all my important grades,” said freshman Katelyn Raney.

Mrs. Tawney Safran, AP European History teacher, said that pressure during finals week can be beneficial to the learning process. “There should be pressure [associated with] finals,” she said. “That being said, I realize that students will freeze up and not perform as well as they should, so I do need to give them some wiggle room and empathy.”

Some teachers, including biology teacher Mrs. Joi Hiraishi, believe finals should be worth a larger chunk of the students’ grades, especially in higher-level classes. “In honors or AP classes, [finals] should be weighted the most because in college there are three tests that determine your grade,” she said. “College-bound students need the practice, pressure, and stress. I don’t think it’s necessary for other students.”

Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors utilized various preparation methods. Freshman Shaeley Hakes said, “I’m definitely going to use a lot of techniques to study, [including] note cards and reading over the chapters.”

Some of these methods are particularly time-consuming. Rylan Mandoza, freshman, plans on reviewing all his past assignments. “I save pretty much every homework assignment from the first day of school. I’ll erase the answers and re-do them,” he said.

Nguyen said that she, along with many of her peers, pushed herself to the breaking point leading up to finals week. “For the past few days I’ve been studying, at least for math, five or six hours day. I would not recommend it for mental health or physical health,” she said. “I’ll sacrifice sleeping or eating for a test. My performance the next day is usually noticeably worse cause I’m in a worse condition than I should be.”

Many students choose to form study groups and meet at either the Cam High library or the Camarillo public library. Cam High librarian, Ms. Heidi Resnik, noted the liveliness of the school library during finals season. “I like to think that we provide space for students to meet,” she said. The library also offers computer access, printing services, tutoring sessions, and aid from the librarian during finals week and throughout the school year.

Several teacher give their students advise to get them through the week. Resnik recommended that students form an efficient study group with their motivated peers and organize their study time wisely. She said, “When I bounce ideas off, when I talk, when I am forced to articulate what I say, I learn better and I see that happening to students [too].”

Hirashi recommended to avoid procrastination. “[Students should] begin studying about a week before. Go over and over the lecture notes. Don’t wait until the night before,” she said.

For her history classes, Safran said that the best preparation is to be consistently on top of the material throughout the year. “A student really shouldn’t be studying content if the student has been prepared all semester,” she said. “[Learning] is not always about the content. It is about the skills and learning how to be a historian.”

First semester finals will take place from Jan. 25 to Jan. 27.  Each day is a minimum day, ending at 12:26 p.m. with two finals per day.