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Tips From a Senior

Niva Cohen



Poetry: list random surrounding objects using artsy formatting –

The black cap of my


The glass of my perfume

Toothbrush bristles

Frayed USB cord

(and one generic closing line)

Welcome come

Reading quizzes: Sparknotes will be insufficient. Be wary, because the English teachers can use that creativity to craft excruciatingly specific questions.

Essays: Don’t say utilize when you can say use – they’re remarkably unimpressed by big words. And don’t expect “form and function” to go anywhere because it will be with you until the end. Learn to use commas correctly. Before it’s too late.

Shakespeare: If you see a sexual reference, it’s there. Some things never change.


Always go to Math Club for extra credit; always take PMLs. For PMLs: when in doubt, guess 0, 1, or whatever year it is – and 1 IS NOT PRIME.

If PhotoMath looks like it’s using some funky method, you probably haven’t learned it yet.

Tests: You can ask a question however many ways you want to, but they still won’t give you the answer (except for when they do, and what a wave of relief that sets into motion.)


Tests: Do revisions while you can because they don’t exist after sophomore year. Don’t worry, though – Ms. Wilson’s Physics curve saves lives.

Labs: Not to be boring and banal, but you should read the directions. Blah. Blah. Blah. But seriously: you can save yourself a lot of redoing if you do it right the first time.

Future-thinking: Pay attention to which material interests you the most so that you can make an informed decision about what science class to take in senior year. It’s better if you base that decision on what you actually want to learn because I hate to break it to you, but colleges don’t really care if you take AP Chem or AP Bio.


Study guides: This is an unpopular opinion that no one will listen to, but make your own study guides. Collaborating or using past students’ will keep the material from concretizing in your brain. You have to be the one to write it down. Also, this might have only been a ninth-grade-me problem, but DO NOT write IDs for every term before the test. Trust yourself to whip out the significance on the spot, and don’t get too detailed because that’s how you run out of time.

Research papers: Use Mrs. Sittenfield throughout the process. I went to her this year when I was about to submit my final draft to get a final piece of information. That last push at research can enhance your paper and make it more original.

In class: Mark up your photocopies and use the teachers’ knowledge. They aren’t scary, I promise.

Jewish Studies

Teachers: Appreciate Rabbi Rosenberg’s laugh. Learn from Rabbi Yondorf’s cooking expertise (especially hummus!). Engage with Rabbi Razin and Socratic method him back. They are such lovely people who want to help you grow (and look at me getting all condescending!! Loving that senior privilege).

Translation: This is mainly for Beit Midrash students – use Jastrow even if you feel too lazy. It takes less effort than laboring over the same word for twenty minutes while your computer stays safely tucked away.

World Language

Translation: Hopefully this is not self-incriminating, but use Google Translate. Don’t stop at Google Translate, though. Check its work to see if it makes sense, and get a second opinion from other sources (Morfix for Hebrew or SpanishDict for Spanish). Depending on how many scoldings I get, I guess I’m about to find out how many of my teachers actually read The Chronicle.

Speaking: I’m a bit of a hypocrite in this regard, so take what I say with a grain of salt. But just speak. Even if you don’t have exactly the right words or grammar – just do it, and you’ll improve. It works wonders on the participation grades.


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