The middle of December meant three things for me growing up: my birthday, winter break, and finals. The third element is always a hurdle to the first two (or just the second if you're not a Sagitarius), the last barricade of work for students between them and freedom. Now that I'm in my second year out of school, I look back and think of a few easy shareable ways to lower that barrier and take the stress out of tests by working together.

  • Form a study group. This is an oldie-but-goodie; it's almost always more fun to study with others than to study alone. Meet at the library if you want to stay focused, or someone's house or a public park if you're looking to come up with shoutable mnemonics. I find that coming up with group jokes will help me not to forget complicated formulas, the memory experts recommend particularly dirty jokes.
  • Take it online. There are more tools every year that can help students study. I've head of teachers freaking out about Facebook groups, which make sharing information beyond the instructor's watchful eyes a snap. Create a group and invite the whole class, maybe even people from last year's class (not to give answers!) Make a Twitter hashtag and spread it between class periods – sometimes a teacher explains a piece of information better to one group than another.
  • Do breakfast. It's sometimes tough to eat and get ready before a test, and if you're anxious on the morning-of, all that preparation can be for not. And I don't even mention all the times students have stayed up late studying and slept through the test. Meet some friends before school for breakfast, it'll give you an energy boost, plenty of time to be prepared, and a last chance to review.
  • Student power. Here's one that never gets mentioned, but it's crucial. At the beginning of the semester, organize with the rest of your class and suggest changes to the syllabus. Maybe the final is too long, and you could all suggest a shorter one. Or perhaps you'd rather do essays than multiple-choice. Some teachers are amenable to making changes, others are a lot less so. But always remember: there are more of you than there are of them.

I wish I'd thought of most of these at the time, but the least I can do is pass them along now.




Malcolm is a writer based in the Bay Area and the Life/Art channel editor at Shareable. His work has been featured on Alternet, KQED.org, The Los Angeles Free Press, and