Thursday: Reviewing for FINALS!
Reviewing for Finals
It’s that time of the year: the end, finis, kaput! The end of the school year is a stone’s throw away. Students (and parents and teachers) can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Let me check here, yep, I’ve used enough clichés. Wait, one more: the sun is setting on the academic period. There. Done. Anyway, before the glorious days of summer can get here, we first must wade through the swamp of finals, and like a swamp, it is often long, winding, and full of things that bite and sting. The key to finals (and the key to navigating a swamp, by the way) is planning. Now is that time. Let’s dive in.
Pretty soon, students will be coming home laden with final review guides, but even if they don’t have them yet, we can still begin to review. Have your student unload all of their handouts, assignments, returned tests and quizzes, and notes on the dining room table. Messy, huh? Try doing it one subject at a time. Less messy? Good. Now let’s organize that teetering pile chronologically. Put subjects covered early in the year with each other in a three ring binder, separated by subject. Don’t separate tests and quizzes out, instead, have them end each chronologically organized section. That way the student can review each portion and use the tests and quizzes to review more effectively.
Go through entire subjects one at a time. Sometimes context can help students learn and remember better than mimicking what they experienced during the school semester. While in school, students bounce between subjects, i.e. 1st period is math, 2nd is science, 3rd is… this can lead to a loss of context of why sections within subjects follow the way they do. When reviewing for finals, it’s important to see the subject as a whole; one section can shed more light on later or even earlier sections. For instance, if we pull meiosis out, then study a whole other subject, then go back to biology to go over genetics, the student loses the opportunity to see that meiosis directly influences genetics. This is especially important in math; mastering early lessons during review can greatly improve how a student does on more complex problems covered later in the semester.
If possible, make clean copies of previous quizzes and tests. Clean tests to work through while reviewing is important as it will test prior material in the same ways and, maybe more importantly, it will reinforce exactly what that specific teacher is looking for. If making clean tests isn’t possible—maybe because the teacher kept all graded tests, (a practice I find at best simply lazy and at worst detrimental to learning) there are a multitude of practice questions on every subject on the internet. Use them.
It is important to set time aside every night for finals review. It doesn’t have to be a ton of time, but setting time aside every night will both get your student more prepared, and also teach them the importance of planning how to tackle large events well in advance.
Comments? Questions? Maybe you want to know why my unicorn army was suspiciously absent from this post? Please, continue the conversation with your reviewing tactics—I’d love to hear them!