Students are more comfortable in their classes during second semester

February 6, 2019 — by Rohan Kumar

Spending three hours on lab reports due to unclear teacher expectations, over-studying for easily aceable math tests and pestering teachers every tutorial are actions overly eager and grade-conscious students fall into during first semester. However, once second semester rolls around, these problems tend to fade away.

Making it through second semester may seem tough, especially given that students have to learn new, more complex concepts on top of remembering the material from first semester and a daunting AP test awaits in May for some classes. In point of fact, though, second semester is significantly easier than first semester. For seniors, the reasons are clear: no college apps and no pressure to get insanely high grades.

For freshmen, sophomores and juniors, the reasons are more subtle. The most important reason second semester is fundamentally less stressful than first semester is that students have developed a rhythm that allows them to get through their classes efficiently.

For the first half of the school year, students have to scramble to allocate the correct amount of time for their homework while maintaining their presence in extracurricular activities. At the same time, they also have to determine which studying habits are most effective for different classes. For instance, cramming might work well for World History, but not for chemistry.

Students also are less familiar with learning resources during first semester. Many teachers give review packets, or links to supplementary tools, in order to help their students succeed. At first, using these aids may be cumbersome since students are not comfortable with all their capabilities. For example, Wolfram Alpha and Desmos are common tools used in various math classes. Although immensely powerful, both websites have a lot of difficult-to-use functionalities. As the year progresses however, students become more adept at utilizing these tools to solve and visualize problems, ultimately allowing them to learn more effectively.

First semester also serves as a chance for students to get to know their teachers better: what they expect, what they like and what they hate more than anything. For example, some teachers dispense copious amounts of homework, while others put less emphasis on outside-of-class work. On specific types of assignments, such as lab report and document inquiries, knowing teacher expectations can be extremely helpful in finishing the work more efficiently.

Similar optimizations surrounding test difficulty and tardies allow students to spend much less time on school in second semester. To be clear, this doesn’t mean cutting corners, but rather, students are able to work with increased efficiency: the same amount of work is being completed, only faster, resulting in a lot of saved time.

Second semester also has more breaks than first semester, with one-week breaks after each six-week grading period. These opportunities to relax and reload helps students get through their classes with less stress.

Second semester may seem tough at first, but those four months of wonderful experience under your belt from first semester make it significantly easier.

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