Preparing for exams from a freshman perspective

Dread fills students’ minds as they walk into the building. The frigid air outside makes their teeth chatter, giving an uncomfortable feeling. Throughout the week, stress bundles up and causes a whirlwind of information to flood the brain. But why does this stress happen? Is there any way to postpone or even eliminate this stress?


This dreaded week is the week before Christmas break, and exams occur during the last three days of this week. This year midterms fall on the dates of December 19th, 20th, and 21st.


Since the school discontinued exemptions from exams, all students except seniors are required to take the exam given for all classes. Students have at least six classes, and some even have seven if they take the extra early bird class. With this many classes to take exams in, it can be very hard to balance studying for all of them.


Studying plays a key part in passing exams. Highlands is all about academic excellence, which makes it almost crucial to pass your exams. There are multiple ways to study, and almost everyone has a different way of doing it in order to succeed. In order to find the best studying method, experimenting is the most effective.


“I would study day by day with two subjects each and add on if I really don’t understand something,” Freshman Jade Rehberger stated.


Freshman Sarah Holder explained, “I would study for about an hour on each subject every day and I don’t usually stress about them unless I don’t study.”


“I put my phone in a different room while I study. This helps me keep my focus on what I’m trying to review,” Freshman Kayla Weber said.


Students’ attitudes are also proven to impact the score of a test. Going into a test worried, upset, or even saying words like, “I’m going to fail,” gives off a negative mindset which automatically causes motivation to decrease.   


Freshman Beatty Arnold explained, “My attitude going into the test can really affect the outcome because when I go into a test staying positive and thinking I will do amazing, I feel awesome when I do great. If I go into a test without a positive attitude, then I pretty much feel bummed about it for the rest of the day.”

Being prepared plays a big role in passing big tests or exams. Steps, like studying material, asking questions about unknown information, studying at least a week in advance, and even studying with a group can help.


Holder said, “Being prepared makes me feel more confident about the exams so I don’t get as nervous.”


Algebra II and Pre-Calculus teacher Melissa Clasgens gave some advice for students, “Most classes give exam reviews, so my first tip would be to study and know the content from the review. Another tip is simply budgeting your review time. You know yourself and you know which classes pose the biggest hurdles for you. Give those the review time that they’ll require to give you the best shot at success. Finally, be certain that your study time and study location is distraction free.”


Changing simple habits like going to bed at 9:30 pm instead of 11:30 pm can affect your ability to focus. Instead of focusing on being tired, your body can now focus on the exam you’re taking. Changing another simple habit of eating breakfast can help. By eating a healthy breakfast, your body is rejuvenated and has the energy it needs to take an exam.


Rehberger said, “I know that whenever I eat a good breakfast I just feel better in general. I am not as tired and feel more energetic.”


“I try to get off of my phone at an earlier time so I can go to bed early,” Freshman Kaylee Donovan explained.


Weber added, “I try to go to bed earlier and also make sure I eat a good breakfast. This helps me make sure I can focus on the test.”


Exams may be stressful, but some or even most of the stress should be resolved by taking the right steps to prepare. Procrastinating, not getting involved and not putting in any effort will take you in the wrong direction.