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3 Tips to Balance Homework & Finals Prep

Follow these steps to stay on top of both homework and preparation for your final exams.

Tiffany Sorensen, Varsity Tutors' Contributor

December 02, 2015

3 Tips to Balance Homework & Finals Prep
Toward the end of a semester, many students tend to worry about how they will balance homework and finals preparation—but with the right mentality and a plan of action, there is no need to worry. To sail smoothly through the remainder of the semester, students should follow the following three steps:

1. Have perspective

As you approach finals season, you should have a clear idea of how your teachers grade. High school teachers normally weigh in factors like participation, attendance, homework, assessments, and projects when they calculate a student’s final grade.

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The most common system involves assigning a percentage to each such category, although some teachers prefer to rely on a points system. Whatever the case may be, it is essential that you become familiar with your teacher’s grading system so you can have perspective in the upcoming weeks. You may be surprised to learn that homework and final exams both make up a quarter of your final grade. On the other hand, you may realize that homework is worth much more than finals are, or vice versa.

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The reason it is necessary to have an understanding of the grading guidelines is that it can help you gauge how much energy to invest in each endeavor, especially if you are worried about not having enough time for all of them equally.
For instance, if the final exam counts for 30% of your grade, but homework only counts for 15%, you will want to spend about twice as much time preparing for finals as nitpicking over tiny issues in the remaining weeks’ homework.

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2. Budget your time

Many would say that the key to performing well in school, particularly toward the end of a term, is time management. This implies that you must prioritize the tasks to be completed and find time for each of them within your weekly routine. There is no one universal method that works for everyone, since every student has different commitments and diverse scheduling needs, so you must do some careful reflection on your individual situation. You will need to design a study plan that personally works for you. If you are a night owl, set aside a few minutes each evening to look over notes or to quiz yourself using flashcards. If you have some free weekends coming up, use some of that time to start studying for finals. Take advantage of lunch and study hall periods as well to get a head start on these endeavors. Only you can know when and how is best for you to squeeze in time for your work.

3. Combine tasks

Even though you may think of doing homework and studying for finals as two separate activities, they can often be one in the same. When you complete your homework assignments, you are effectively preparing for final exams. This is because the majority of high school final exams are cumulative, and much of the homework you work on during the semester is likely to appear on the final. To make the most of your time, approach homework tasks with a technique that will serve you well around finals week. Now is the time to determine how you tend to approach homework assignments and whether or not your method has been working for you. If by the next day, you have already forgotten what the homework was about, something about your tactic must be changed. Think about what type of learner you are: Would organizing material into charts and diagrams make it easier for you to understand? Would you gain more from reading a text first and then answering questions, rather than answering them while you read? When you read your textbooks, keep an eye out for vital phrases—such as “therefore,” “however,” “except,” and “although”—that may signal important information. Be aware of words, formulas, dates, and names that pop up over and over again during the course. Notice certain points that your teachers seem to emphasize—you very well might come across them again on your finals. The key to success for finals season is to learn how to use your time most effectively. Instead of stressing about how you will both do homework and prepare for final exams, rely on the above techniques. If you utilize your time wisely, you will see how manageable both of these tasks can be. Tiffany Sorensen is a professional tutor and contributing writer with Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.

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