Trash or Stash: Determining the Value of Class Materials

Determine which of your class materials can be useful for studying and which to toss before you end up with papers piled to the ceiling!

By Erica Cirino, Varsity Tutors' Contributor

October 06, 2015

Trash or Stash: Determining the Value of Class Materials Trash or Stash: Determining the Value of Class Materials

Despite the so-called tech revolution going on right now, life as a student still appears to generate an almost impossible amount of paper – at times it can feel like you are swimming in graded assignments, exams, and more.

Unless you stay organized, you can end up with a giant paper mess in your book bag, locker, or home desk.

So, what should you do with all that paper? In short, it depends on what’s on the paper. Some coursework can be very useful up until finals week, while the rest can be recycled before then.

Yet it can be challenging to determine which of these papers to keep and which you should toss.

Read on to find out what coursework you should keep until finals, and what you should toss into the recycling bin.

1. Creative projects

Though fun to complete, creative projects aren’t usually too helpful in terms of finals prep. Unless you are completely attached to a creative assignment, such as a painting you’ve created to accompany a literary analysis, don’t feel obligated to keep it.

2. Exams

Graded exams are a must-keep for finals prep. Not only will the material on these exams be useful in studying for your final, but your final may even include questions straight from these exams.

Because these exams are graded, you can easily figure out your weakest points on which you should focus your final-exam studying. A good way to keep your graded exams organized is to keep them in the back of a respective course’s binder or folder.

3. Research papers

Final exams often include an essay component, especially in the subjects of English and social studies. In this respect, you should hold onto any research papers you’ve completed that answer a question that may be asked on your final exam.

Research papers, like all essays, require a strong thesis statement, supporting evidence and a compelling conclusion in order to convey an idea. Review any relevant research papers and take note of how you crafted your argument, and why you were successful or unsuccessful, in your attempt. Memorize what you did well, and try to improve on your weakest points.

4. Syllabi

At the beginning of each school year, most high school teachers distribute syllabi to their students. These documents include an agenda for the year, listing weekly topics, important events, assignment due dates, and test dates.

You should keep each class syllabus you receive up until finals week. Each provides you with a class-by-class list of the year’s topics, which can help guide your studying. It may also include special notes about the final exam’s content – which you would miss out on if you tossed this important type of document.

Lastly, it’s critical to ensure that you have the most updated version of each class’s syllabus. A teacher’s lesson plans may change over the course of a year, as may the material covered on your final exam. Recycle any old syllabi, and keep your most updated syllabi in their respective course binders or folders.



Erica Cirino is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, the leading curated marketplace for private tutors. The company also builds mobile learning apps, online tutoring environments, and other tutoring and test prep-focused technologies.

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