Our Youth

Let Them Speak: Time Management 101: Final Exams

By Kene Nzelu


Brrrrrriinnnnggggg. The school bell rings marking the end of the school week on a Friday in May. You get excited. It’s now time for the weekend! You can get away from the school atmosphere for a couple of days, catch up on all of your favorite TV shows you missed and hang out with some friends. You’re on the bus on your way home thinking of all the wonderful things you’re going to do with your family and then it hits you. Final exams are coming up! (Cue the horror music.)

You start to panic as you realize that you only have a couple of weeks left to cram all of the information you need to know! At the same time, you need to balance studying, doing chores and participating in extracurricular activities that you’re doing. How is this going to work?

Well there’s no need to worry because I’m going to give you tips on how to balance studying for final exams with your daily life.

I want to start off by saying that I know it’s really hard to manage time. This is a challenge that even I deal with, but by the grace of God, I improve in this everyday. If you have this problem, hopefully it will help to hear from someone who goes through the same thing.

I’m involved in a couple of extracurriculars in my school. I’m a member of the Xaverian Chorus, National Honor Society and Xaverian Dramatics. During this spring season, though, I’m doing Chorus and National Honor Society. High school itself without any extracurricular activities can be tough, but when you have extra activities you’re doing, it can be even harder to complete everything that needs to be done.

Nzelu played Babette, the love interest of Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast for Xaverian Dramatics. (Photo courtesy of Kene Nzelu

Mentally Plan

Recently I’ve made a habit of mentally planning out what I do with my time after school. I think about how long I can do my homework, study for upcoming exams, do chores, have free time and get ready for bed. This may sound like too much work, but it isn’t. This only takes me a few minutes. Even the experts at New York University (NYU) say that “if you fail to take time for planning, you are, in effect, planning to fail.” So you really need to plan out your time.

 Get Homework Done

Another thing I do is get all of my homework and studying done once I’ve finished my extracurricular activities for the day. Try your best not to procrastinate. The blog TopUniversities.com says that you should “avoid procrastination and distraction.” This can be hard, but it will definitely help you to get all of your work done on time.

Once I finish Chorus rehearsal, I usually pack my school bag and then go to my school’s study hall. There I finish my homework and study for a quiz or test I might have the next day. I like to do my work in a quiet place with no distractions. Once in a while, I might get distracted, but if I find myself doing this, I put myself back on track. When managing your time, you need to focus. When you find yourself distracted, ask yourself this crucial question, “What is the most important thing I can be doing with my time right now?”

I usually get home from school around 6:30 in the evening. When I get home, I usually study for my upcoming AP world history exam for about two hours. Then I do my chores and get ready for bed. I’m not perfect, though. I don’t always get my chores done, but I try my best.

Make Time For Breaks   

During the weekends, I spend a lot of time relaxing because I usually get my homework done on Fridays. I make up for all of the work I did during the week. I also make time to study for my AP exam too.I try taking practice exams since I have more time on those days.

Something it’s really important to remember that even though you may have a lot of studying and homework to do, you need to give yourself free time and take breaks regularly.

When the non-profit organization Khan Academy asked students how they managed their study time, many of them said that it was really important for them to take breaks in between studying and reward themselves with a snack if they got a lot of work done. Organizing free time may be hard sometimes, but you can do this by breaking up study time into chunks throughout the day.

For example, you can study on the bus on your way to school, so that way you don’t need to study for too long after school. You can do your homework as you eat your lunch so that way you have less homework to do after school. You just have to be creative.

Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

Remember, don’t be too hard on yourself. So, are you up for the challenge? See if you can balance your time wisely from now on. Make checklists and set goals for yourself.

“Goals give your life, and the way you spend your time, direction” (NYU). I promise you, if you stick to your goals, you’ll be so happy and proud of yourself. Surprise yourself with the amazing things you could do.

I hope my advice helps. Hopefully, listening to my experience in time management can help you better manage yours. Don’t give up, do your best and leave the rest to God!

Kene Nzelu is a sophomore at Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge.