Finals’ weightings drop to 10 percent: How to prepare

As AT moves into the first final exam season since the pandemic hit in March of 2020, administration voted to change the finals’ weighting, and teachers shared tips and strategies for studying.

With the Covid pandemic, three semesters’ worth of finals were canceled, and it was brought to question whether, even with a completely in-person school year, students were prepared to be dropped into AT’s demanding finals schedules. 

Following discussion with staff, students, and Board of Education members, the Dupage88 administration voted finals to be weighted at 10 percent this semester rather than the traditional 20 percent. This change renders it more difficult for Blazers to significantly shift their grades with final exams, but far easier to stagnate letter grades.

Final exams will be held over the course of three days: Dec 15, Dec 16, and Dec 17. Each day is assigned 3 finals: 1st, 3rd, 4th for day one; 7th, 2nd, 5th for day two; 8th, 6th, make-up finals for day three. All finals are 90 minutes long with 10 minute passing periods.

Buses will arrive at AT before the first and second final, and depart from AT after the second and third final all three days of finals. 

Because most Blazers are not accustomed to the final exam, various teachers offer the best ways to study for the final exams they are most familiar with.

English teacher Jessica Clark provides her advice for any student struggling with how to study. 

“I give a study guide in advance to lay out the format of the test, and I’ll go over the test format. I would encourage kids to ask their teachers what to expect–are there flashcards we can make, is there certain material we should go back to,” said Clark.

She describes what to expect on any typical English final across all levels. “In the case of a lot of the English finals, you’re going to have a reading passage, just depends on the level. So, [students should]  think about close reading skills prior to the final, they’re looking at words they know, something to keep them on pace with time. Just to make sure they have an understanding of the major concepts taught that year,” continued Clark. 

Social studies department head Brendan Lyons offers a short agenda for the Blazer Nation to prepare for finals. 

“1, start early, don’t wait until the night before to start studying. 2, prioritize your finals–know where you stand in each class and organize your studies around the classes that need the most attention. 3, Organize your support material:  notes, flashcards, review sheets, guide sheets. 4, take advantage of any reviews that your teachers offer, and if they don’t, find a small group to study with. 5, relax & get some rest…’ll all do great!” said Lyons. 

Physics teacher Kira Bonk describes the best way to study for an exam requiring problem-solving and application rather than recall. 

“I suggest getting a clean piece of paper out and making a cheat sheet for every unit in your class. If you work on this every day, that counts as studying. You can’t use that on the final, but this will summarize notes. If it is a math or physics class, you need to do problems to study, not just read things. People say, ‘Oh well, I read the notes,’ but the test isn’t about your ability to read the notes, it’s about the ability to do problems,” said Bonk.

Math teacher Phil Stewart explained how he expects students to best prepare for their finals.

“One, I would go back through all the chapter tests that the teacher should have hopefully given you if that’s possible, and all the quizzes, and any type of review that was put online, and do a lot of practice problems,” said Stewart.

Only days remain until finals season takes over AT’s bustling environment, and for procrastinators, the clock ticks away.

“Cramming doesn’t work. If you haven’t studied, then you are screwed, But, I would say if you haven’t studied, a good night’s sleep will benefit you more than cramming,” said Stewart. 

Bonk’s biggest piece of advice is to start early, but she understands that procrastination is ultimately human nature. “Instead of cramming, which is ultimately human nature to do, it is better for your brain and learning if you do a little bit every day instead of a lot the night before.”

She wishes to offer positivity toward those anxious for finals.

“You’ll be fine! It’s going to be great!” said Bonk.

AT’s 2021-22 first semester final exam season will begin Wednesday, Dec 15.

+ posts