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5 tips for finishing the school year strong

By Katie Azevedo, M.Ed.

As the school year comes to a close, you might be looking for ways to power up and end on a good note. Fortunately, as a student, you have a few strategies at your disposal that can help you do exactly that. This blog post features 5 tips for finishing the school year strong. Because they’re actual strategies and not quick-fix hacks, they’re best used when you have at least a few weeks left in the school year (or the semester).

5 tips for finishing the school year strong

The end of the school year can be a stressful time for students, especially when you’re trying to juggle exams, final projects, and other commitments. However, with the strategies listed below, you can finish the school year strong and confident.   

1. Assess your current situation to identify critical areas. 

Knowing the status of your current grades and assignments is the first step in any attempt to improve your situation. In other words. you have to know what areas need attention before you can decide where to focus your efforts. Depending on how much time you have until the end of the school year, you might only be able to “fix” one or two areas – and this information is important to know in advance.

Ask yourself the following questions to help you assess your current status:

  1. Are your grades where they need to be? If not, which ones are low? Why are they that way?
  2. If you have multiple classes with low grades and not a lot of time, which class will you focus on? 
  3. Are you missing work? Can you turn in anything for at least partial credit? If you don’t know, ask your teacher. If you can get any points for late work, do it.
  4. Are your test grades low? Can you do extra credit? If you don’t know, ask.
  5. Are you getting all the possible “easy” points available to you, such as class participation and classwork points? 

2. Determine what result you want. 

If you’re reading a post about how to end the school year strong, you’re probably looking for an improvement somewhere, yes? Okay, so WHAT improvements are you looking for, specifically? A general goal like “I just want to end strong” isn’t specific enough to form a plan around. 

Do you want to go from a C to a B in physics? Awesome. Make a plan. What do you need to do between now and the end of the year to make that happen? How much time do you have? Is it even possible?

Or maybe your grades are currently solid, so your goal is to maintain them by doing well on your finals. Excellent – so make a plan for doing well on your finals. If you don’t have a goal, you can’t make a plan. And without a plan, goals don’t happen

3. Plan ahead and start early for final exams and projects. 

One of the most effective tips for finishing the school year strong is to start studying for finals earlier than you want to. Use my free study planner. Use spaced repetition and active recall study methods. If you’re anticipating multiple finals at once, use this strategy so you don’t get overwhelmed. The ultimate secret weapon against a stressful end of the school year that tanks on a bad note is starting your study prep and final projects waaaaay earlier than you think is reasonable. 

5 tips for finishing the school year strong infographic
5 tips for finishing the school year strong

4. Show up to all your classes. 

I get it: It’s easy to justify skipping classes during the final weeks of school – especially if you live in a location where the climate gets nicer as the year ends. But this is your last chance to pull up your grades, earn class participation points, and strengthen your connections with your professors. Also, physically attending class and listening to your lectures is the most direct way to increase your understanding of the material. If your goal is to end the year with the best possible grade, you need to be in class. If you strongly dislike a class, use these 6 strategies.

Also, if you’re blowing off the final weeks of classes, you’re not leaving a good impression on your teachers. Why does this matter? Because at the end of the day, when your teachers enter your final grades, they have the power to nudge borderline grades up or down (shhh… that’s a trade secret I probably shouldn’t announce to the world, but it’s true). Those little nudges are sometimes the difference between a B+ and an A-.

5. Maintain positive teacher connections. 

Your teachers don’t have to be your best friends, and neither should they be. But closing out the school year with positive teacher relationships has many benefits. Depending on your grade level, or whether or not you’re in high school or college, teachers can provide letters of recommendation for college applications, job applications, or internship opportunities. They may also recommend you for hard-to-get courses for the following year. If you’re on good terms with your teachers when the year ends, you’ll be in a better position to call in these favors if needed. 

Finals notes about ending the school year strong

Finishing the end of the school year strong is realistic if you start now. Hail Marys don’t work well in the final moments, because as the year closes, you have fewer and fewer opportunities (assignments, tests, etc.) to get your grades up. At some point, there really is a too-late threshold. But with a solid assessment of your current status (tip 1), you can dial in your ultimate goal (tip 2) and do what you have to do to get there (tips 3-5). 

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