Students Prepare for Finals at Annual Exam Jam

By Ruby Deeming, Staff Writer

// With finals week approaching, many students find themselves searching for extra help as they try to raise their grades and eliminate unwanted stress before the end of the semester. 

   The Acalanes High School library hosted their annual Exam Jam on Dec. 8, providing a safe space for students to reach out to teachers and peer tutors to prepare for finals.

   Over the past few weeks, Acalanes students have had a variety of opportunities to receive help in planning and preparing for finals. Exam Jam provided one of the first opportunities for students to work one-on-one with teachers and peer tutors. 

   “It’s another opportunity for students to get support before final exams… There’s been different kinds of support offered over the last few weeks, but it’s a nice chance to get help from teachers,” Leadership and Ethnic Studies teacher Katherine Walton said. “It can be a little intimidating for some students to approach [teachers], so I also [try] to ask people what they’re working on and if they need help. [I] try [to] introduce them to the teacher as a way for them to feel comfortable sitting down.”

   Exam Jam allowed many students to meet with teachers for additional help and clarification on class material.

   “I think that having access to teachers makes students feel better when they have their questions answered. I think that they feel a little bit [calmer], less stressed, [and] more like they’ve got the material under control,” World History and AP Comparative Government teacher Joe Schottland said.

   Teachers also helped the frosh and sophomores understand what to expect during finals week because they have not taken finals in-person yet.

   “The Exam Jam is focused on ninth and tenth graders. The ninth-graders didn’t really have finals last year. In many cases, they’ve never had anything called finals, so what I expect them to take away from this year particularly is that they’re getting used to this [concept] of finals and the seriousness of it,” Schottland said. “I think that [students] should take away the fact that there are a lot of teachers here that want to help and are actually interested in them doing well on finals and in school.”

   Along with frosh and sophomores, many juniors and seniors also feel that they are out of practice with in-person finals due to distance learning.

   “After a long year of online school, it’s been really difficult to catch up and adjust to the new learning environment, so I definitely have to focus more and study a lot,” junior Owen Salmon said.

   Along with teachers, peer tutors also attended Exam Jam to help students with different material.

   “I think for a lot of people, it’s their first finals, so there’s a lot of fear that it’s super hard or they aren’t prepared,” peer tutor and junior Mary Laska said. “I hope that [students] will realize that everyone’s in it together… and that their teachers want to help them prepare.”

   In addition to reviewing content and creating cohesive plans with students, the Exam Jam provided drinks and snacks to add some fun to a potentially stressful end of the semester.

   “It can help calm nerves, it can bring a little [bit] of fun to something that people can be nervous about or dreading. And even though we generally all take our own exams… studying for it [can] be kind of lonely too. So this makes it kind of a party atmosphere to some degree. We got people getting stuff done and hopefully feeling more confident about their finals,” librarian Barbara Burkhalter said.

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