Not only is 15-year-old Yara Shahidi one of the stars of the hit TV show Black-ish, she’s also a high school student with a full roster of AP classes, and—as evidenced by the picture above—the definition of #blazergoals. As if all that weren’t enough, in her spare time (WUT? HOW?), Yara encourages girls to get jazzed about STEM fields for DoSomething.org. Needless to say, she’s the stuff study buddy dreams are made of! Lucky for us, she was willing so share some of her wisdom about memorization, balancing it all, and (perhaps) most importantly: PANCAKES VS. WAFFLES!
SparkLife: When you’re cramming for finals or staring down a term paper, do you ever feel overwhelmed by where to begin? What’s your strategy when you don’t even know where to start?
Yara: I definitely feel overwhelmed at times! Like most of my peers and myself, we are juggling more than just school. So whenever I have an AP world history test or an essay due for AP lit, I quiz myself to see what areas I need to strengthen. I’m a visual person, so I like to write down what points I need to review on post it notes and one by one, I commit them to memory.
You must have to memorize a ton of lines in addition to names, dates, and chemical formulas! Do you have any memorization tips?
I use my self-named “Why in the world” technique. Basically, I use the same technique for school and acting. I figure out why my character is saying something, or why does a helium particle leave during Alpha decay, or what inspired the Romans conquered Carthage. When I know why an event is happening or has happened, or what motivates Zoey (my character on Blackish) it’s no longer just memorizing, because I gain a deeper understanding.
Which subject do you find toughest, and how do you prepare for it?
That’s an easy answer! AP calc takes extreme focus. For me, I find practice problems very helpful. I also try to complete the hardest problems first. If I get the hard problem correct, then I know I’ve mastered the topic.
What’s the best advice a teacher’s ever given you?
The best advice I’ve received is that it’s important not to just memorize material to get an A in class, but take the time to really learn and understand the material! It’s much more enjoyable that way 🙂
AND FINALLY, the question we always ask: pancakes or waffles?
Yara Shahidi: Team Waffles, Team STEM, Team Awesome.