Studious Stephanie

Dear Hikmet,

How should I study for finals?

- Studious Stephanie

Dear Studious Stephanie,

Great question! Some of the HGM teachers’ finals are really intimidating, but really, none aren’t that bad.

I’ll start with Mr. Maine. Famously, if you get a higher grade on his final than your class average, that will be your final grade. This makes Maine’s final particularly important to study for, especially if you don’t have the average you want. His finals are AP-style multiple choice (with 2nd-semester finals often being literal AP questions), so AP practice books are a great resource here. As with all Maine’s classes and tests, you have to be able to solve the problems and understand the concepts (especially for physics), so make sure you practice for these. Maine also lets you make a cheat sheet to bring to the final. I recommend doing so, and I recommend making your own. Like he says, the most good that comes out of it is the process that goes into making it, and that’s reviewing content. Go through the semester and pick some key information from each topic to put on your cheat sheet. In so doing you’ll get a refresher of the whole semester, and if you’re in a pinch during the test it can help you out.

With Mr. Yousefian, the final works a bit differently. As with many of his tests, the practice test he gives is, erm, very similar to the real deal. Thus the best advice I can give is to do the practice test! With Yousefian’s classes, there’s generally more stuff you have to memorize (although there’s less memorization if you can logically deduce problems in a pinch), so make sure you get all of it (e.g. trigonometric integrals) down. You should be able to catch all your weak spots when you do the practice test.

Mr. Nguyen is a bit of a wildcard, as he’s new, so nobody’s ever seen his final. Based on what he’s said, though, there’s a few things we know. It’s worth a lot - 100 points or so - so don’t blow it off; that said, he’s promised you only need a C if you already have an A average and you want to keep your A (i.e. it’s not worth the most stress over). I’m told the final will have multiple choice and free response, but the free response will only be graded if necessary to save your grade. The same question pool used on the tests throughout the year will be used to draw up the final, so studying past tests and worksheets should be good prep.

Ms. Espinosa’s AP Biology class is notorious for being difficult. There’s plenty of room for error when doing work for the AMGEN labs and the long tests that contain many AP multiple-choice questions and daunting free-response questions. Especially since many freshmen take this as their first AP course along with world history, they may not have the best grade going into the final. Many seniors who take the course most likely have late-onset senioritis by this point. Luckily, Ms. Espinosa’s final is much like her normal test without the free response questions. Since biology is such a big subject, make sure you understand all of the concepts Ms. Espinosa has gone over by looking over her slides or by looking at an AP study book. Similarly with her new AP Environmental Science course, the final with be AP style multiple choice questions as well.

For Mr. Bradbury’s end-of-year final, it’s easy multiple choice, not the passage reading nonsense. But this fall, APUSH students get a normal, passage-reading test on Thursday, and get a fun Bradbury lecture during their finals period! That said, keep doing what works for you on his normal tests, know any study material he gives, and be familiar with the underlying ideas to help you answer the passage reading questions more easily.

For Ms. Underwood, her final is usually a multiple choice online test. The final contains concepts that she’s taught over the course of the year, or maybe something she taught the previous week. For her AP English Language class, I hear the test will cover multiple topics such as the English Bill of Rights, Frederick Douglass, and the Declaration of Independence. As long as you’ve paid attention in her class and gone over all of the previous tests that covered such topics, you should be fine. Make sure to read each question carefully to avoid careless mistakes.

Mr. McCollaum usually offers slightly longer normal tests during his finals period, so plan accordingly: know the crib sheet and Quizlet as needed. For all the teachers, but especially for Mr. McCollaum, ask as many questions as you can about the test in advance to get as much information about format and content as possible, and cross-reference with other periods of that class (and investigate any discrepancies). Your mileage may vary, but I don’t usually have an issue with McCollaum’s tests if I am comfortable with the concepts tested in free response questions and I study Quizlets for fill-in-the-blank. Seniors have his final on Monday which is nice because it gives you the weekend and lets you get it out of the way early.

In terms of focusing your efforts, there’s a lot of merit to doing plenty the night before - it gives you a free way to schedule your time. That said, depending on your class averages, you’ll generally want to focus on your higher worth finals (e.g. Maine) more, or whichever ones you need the highest score on to get your desired grade. After the tests, don’t be afraid to respectfully haggle for rounding a little bit - but don’t be surprised if your answer is no. Whatever finals you have, I wish you the best in them.

Good Luck,

- Hikmet