First Year Exam Advice


Exam stress is something that every student can relate to at Chelsea High School. Finals are worth 20% of a student’s overall grade, and they’re usually significantly longer than regular tests. So far, as a senior, I’ve taken 45 exams in my entire high school career, not including college admittance tests. One of my most stressful exams was for Physics class. I made sure to check my work before turning it in, and I got the highest grade I ever got on a Physics test. It’s important to have confidence when going into exams, and all the preparation that has been done when the day of an exam comes can help. When I was a freshman, I had no idea what to expect, and it’s important to spread any information and advice that could help out another stressed student.



Hours 1, 3, and 5 are on Tuesday. There are 120 minutes for each exam, and 10 minutes passing time. Go to the restroom during the passing time, because you can’t go during the exam! Lunch is 45 minutes, and A lunch is after 1st hour and B is after 3rd.

On Wednesday, it’s hours 2 and 4, which are 90 minutes each. At 11:10, school is done for the day and the student body can finally go home. Depending upon the teacher’s policy, some will allow students stay after and finish if necessary. No lunch is served because it’s a half day.



  1. Bring something to do after you finish. Ask your teacher if you can be on your phone after, but I never risk it. Cheating is taken very seriously, and the first offense is a failing grade for punishment. Ask the teacher, but don’t try anything that might lead to a poor grade. Personally, I bring a coloring book and colored pencils which can be really helpful in de-stressing.
  2. Go to the restroom during passing time. You can’t during the exam. You also can’t go get stuff from your locker, so make sure to come prepared. Lots of pencils and erasers.
  3. Drink water.
  4. Dress comfortably. I show up in pajamas or baggy sweatpants, and it works well for me. It keeps me comfortable and warm during the stress of the exam.
  5. If you have long hair, put it up. I was taking a test sophomore year and I forgot a hair tie. I use mechanical pencils and the little clip got stuck in my hair. I was trying to cover my answers, untangle my hair, and remember the material. When I went up to turn it in, my hair was a rat’s nest. I always put mine into a bun so I’m not flipping my hair out of my way.
  6. A binder/notebook isn’t necessary on the day of the exam. If you want to bring it you can, but it’ll just going to sit below the chair, and it’s an extra thing to carry.
  7. Make sure you have mechanical pencil lead if you use them. Nothing is worse than running out of lead in the middle of an exam. Trust me.


Study tips:

  1. Eat plenty of healthy food. Food is good. Eat lunch. Eat breakfast, and make sure it’s a substantial breakfast (not just a Pop-Tart) that will last you until lunch.
  2. Drink water (this is important for a lot of things in life, so I included it here, too.)
  3. If you are sick or not feeling well, keep tissues and cough drops on your desk. It helps you keep yourself well while focusing by not having to get up every time you need something.
  4. Chew gum/mints according to flavors and classes.
    1. For example, chew peppermint while studying for math and chew the same flavor of peppermint while taking the exam. Mint is really good, and I use specific mints.
  5. Study the stuff from the beginning of the trimester. It will cause you more stress to try and remember little details 11 weeks ago.
  6. Highlight. Color code.
  7. Flashcards.
    1. The paper ones help me more than Quizlet, especially when you write them yourself.
  8. DON’T CRAM.
  9. Don’t over study but don’t under study.
    1. This one is hard to explain. Don’t work yourself crazy, but also don’t procrastinate or blow it off.
  10. Do the review guide. Teachers make them for you for the test, and it gives you an idea of what material will be on the exam. Depending upon the class, you might even get extra credit.
  11. Get a lot sleep. Seriously. Take care of yourself and sleep.
  12. If you have time, double-check your work.
  13. Fill in all the bubbles completely. If you make a mistake, erase completely.
  14. Prepare your neck. This sounds weird, but you are going to be hunched over reading and answering questions. Your neck and shoulders will hurt.
  15. Power pose to boost your confidence.
  16. Make sure you have reliable pencils, like Ticonderoga.
  17. Write stuff down. Studies say it improves memory.
  18. Teach others. Making sure they understand it is saying it in the way that you understand it. It will solidify it in your brain.
  19. Ask your teachers questions. They know what they are talking about and are here to help you succeed.
  20. Stay organized when looking over material.
    1. Organize your binder.
  21. Read. Reread. Make sure you understand any assigned text.
  22. I don’t usually wear makeup because I know I’m going to rub my eyes and smudge it. Plus, I don’t want anything in my eye that distracts me.
  23. Silence your technological devices.
  24. Keep track of time.
  25. Prepare yourself for the length of the exams.
  26. Type in “final exam calculator” into Google. I use Roger Hub because it is really easy.
    1. Type in your current grade in the class, type in the percent the exam is worth (20%), and type in what you want your final grade to be. It will say what you need to get on your exam to get the grade you want. It takes a lot of stress away and reminds you which tests you need to focus the hardest on.
  27. They usually have therapy dogs during lunch.
  28. Study buddies!
  29. Don’t forget to laugh every once in a while. Don’t let this kill your sanity.


I hope these tips help! In general, just remember to keep calm, study, deep breath, and you’ll be fine.