As the semester comes to an end, it’s easy to get stuck juggling assessments, missing assignments, and upcoming final exams. Though stress is a normal response to the many expectations that come with the end of the semester, it is crucial to find balance during this hectic season.

Students shared their thoughts regarding the fast-approaching finals week, what they are doing to prepare, and how they cope with stress. 

Freshman Scarlett Shank said, “I’m not stressed about finals but I’m going to study for my science test so I do well on that.” Entering high school involves a major change in environment and expectations. Freshmen may be unfamiliar with the process of finals, which can be a source of anxiety unique to them. A great way to relieve that kind of stress is to talk to your teachers about their expectations and what you can do to succeed. Teachers are there to support you and will be happy to help you achieve your academic goals. 

Sophomore Celia Bernstein expressed her worries about finals week, saying, “I’m stressed about finals because I row for over 17 hours a week. I don’t have enough time to prepare for my finals, which can be up to 65% of my grade.” 

One of students’ major concerns is the lack of time. Many teachers do not assign final reviews until Finals Focus Week; however, one week of cramming sometimes isn’t enough time for students to fully prepare for multiple assessments. To combat this, students should review the material throughout the semester to reduce the amount of studying necessary before finals. 

It can be hard to maintain focus for hours at once, so it is important to take breaks here and there when studying. A great way to make your studying less painful is to put aside all distractions and take 15-30 minute breaks when you notice you’re becoming less productive. 

Junior Nao Ohashi said, “I like to take short breaks between studying. It helps me keep my focus.” 

Additionally, finding a peaceful study spot can make studying easier. The M-A Library holds an after-school homework center program where students can study alongside student and staff tutors who offer help in all subjects. Similarly, the Menlo Park Library has a quiet space dedicated to teens stocked with resources. Some students find they are most productive in a coffee shop or in their own home. Whatever you decide, before you start studying, find a place that allows you to do your best work. 

Oftentimes, students find themselves sacrificing sleep for more study time. While this may seem like it garners better results on finals, sleep deprivation can actually be detrimental to success. According to the Sleep Foundation, “Poor sleep impacts your memory, creativity, and logical reasoning. In other words, not sleeping enough impairs all the skills you need to perform well on a final exam.” Before your final exams, make sure to get sufficient sleep—8-10 hours a night. 

Senior Jessica Nelson said, “I try to get a good night of sleep prior to my finals. I have a hard time being productive when I’m exhausted.”

Lastly, you should use online resources. Some of my favorites are Khan Academy, YouTube, and Quizlet. You can make a free account for all of the above to review all your class material.

That said, stress is a normal response to finals, and it cannot be entirely suppressed. M-A offers a variety of outlets for students who need a place to de-stress or someone to talk to. If you need someone to talk to, you can receive emotional support through Star Vista in the office. Additionally, M-A offers the Zen Den, where you can spend time alone.

Before addressing your stress, it is crucial to be in the right mindset. Sutter Health recommends, “Don’t judge yourself by your friends’ goals and achievements. Set your own goals and be proud of your own hard work.” Each student has educational plans, so catering the definition of success to your personal objectives will prepare you for a more realistic and attainable goal. The CDC recommends that you “Identify those things which you do not have control over and do the best you can with the resources available to you.”

Tiffany Karp is a junior at M-A this year. She enjoys writing about local events and issues on campus. She is also a member of M-A's Dance Team and dances competitively.

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