1. Review Review Review
If you’re not already in grade 12, I strongly suggest flipping through future course content ahead of time. Dedicate a week or two before the start of the course and expose yourself to its material.
If you don’t know how to prepare for a course, try googling your course code followed by “notes online”. Search for the course-code (sph4u) and not the subject (physics) because curriculums often diverge in content from province to province (yes, I’m a maple syrup sippin Canadian eh). Albeit you’ll be silently labeled as the nerd or “try-hard”, just remember that smart is the new sexy.
2. Don’t Obsess
“It’s not about the marks, it’s about learning”. I’ve heard this from my teachers one too many times; ironically, my toughest ones. But now that I’ve actually experienced grade 12, I realize this overused cliche actually holds some truth. Most students fail to acknowledge this simple truth by virtue of the environment they study in; one where marks are valued more than actual learning. This inevitably leads to students cheating thereby adopting the dishonest academic practice. You may be thinking to yourself this is utter bs, but trust me because I used to be grade-hungry from freshman to junior year. At the end of the day, I had to humble myself- just like Kendrick Lamar keeps telling me to, and remind myself that when I enter the workforce, my grades will be the least relevant factor- almost invisible to employers; instead, value the idea of learning something and applying it to the world around us.
3. Form Learning Habits
Reverberating the idea of actually wanting to learn (#2), try forming good learning habits to help you keep up with your courses with minimal stress. One habit I undervalued is studying for- what I unofficially coin, a “Goldilock number” of hours; not too many hours nor too little. Too many hours leads to burnout and leaves your mind frazzled on the test date. Too few hours leads to straight-up bombing the test. Try studying for different hours on different days and see which you find the most comfortable. I give you an example of two people I know. One studied an ungodly amount yet he never did that well in class. The other person never put in an ungodly number of hours studying, however, he truly enjoyed learning the subject. They both were similar in that they had smarts; they differed in the way they went about learning. Memorizing < wanting to learn. It’s as simple as that.
4. Stay organized
Time is money; use every minute you have. Quick tangent: ‘time is money’ has become such a cliche that we even say spend your time (literary device synesthesia). Before senior year, I never bothered making a schedule thinking it was for snobby uptight people. Now here I am scheduling my jogs, study days, and even free-days. It does wonders for forgetful people like me. So be sure to schedule dates to just sit down and get all the work done. If you’re constantly doing work to stay ahead you never quite feel so overwhelmed. For instance, when a teacher tells you you have an exam coming up in a week, don’t wait until a day before the exam to start studying when you had 7 days where you could’ve put in an hour a day and had more time for other stuff and less stress.
5. Don’t always go on your phone
A big one for many people of my generation who’ve been coined by many as “children of the internet” (shouts to Santan Dave). Every week, my phone alerts me about my screen time; last year, I’d been shocked to find out I averaged 5 hrs daily. I identified this as a conflict of interest for senior year because of how busy my schedule would get. With Instagram literally hiring psychologists to make the app more addicting, it’s becoming more and more difficult to even say no to your phone. But I suggest looking up strategies, tips, and tricks to lower your daily phone use if you want to use your time effectively.
6. Exercise Daily
Research suggests that regular exercise helps you to remember information better, enhances your concentration, and makes you more creative. Make exercise a fixed part of your weekly routine. Exercise three to four times a week, for at least 20 to 30 minutes each time. If you’re reading this while COVID-19 is still raging on and bounding everyone to the walls of their homes, I suggest going for walks in your neighborhood whenever you have the time. I know and understand how important senior year can be, but don’t make the mistake of gambling with your health. Health is wealth in 2020.
This is a two-part entry; 6 tips followed by another 6 [more practical] tips.