Midterms. That dreaded word that causes students everywhere to quake upon hearing it. What’s scarier than the thought of the first big cumulative exam of the semester? The tell-all test when you reveal if you’ve been actively learning all semester or if you’ve been sliding down into your lecture hall seat and grabbing an hour or two of beauty rest every day. Get ready, cause it’s show time.
As spring break begins next week, professors tend to be loading on projects and exams left and right, in an attempt to get that one last evaluation in before students flee to sunshine and warm beaches. However, if you can keep your head among all this craziness, it’s more than possible to manage your time and successfully conquer your midterms. Here’s a handy list of tips to how you can survive “hell week”.
1) SLEEP – This comes first on the list because it is by far the most important preparatory tool and is also the easiest to sacrifice when things get crazy. Make sure first and foremost that you get your 9 ½ hours every night, because once you start to slip on that, you’ll fall into a vicious cycle of working inefficiently and therefore sacrificing more sleep as tasks take longer to complete. Also, research shows you will be happier, healthier, and better academically if your brain has the rest it needs.
2) Drink lots of water – It’s easy to fall prey to the tantalizing lures of coffee and energy drinks, which promise to give you those extra hours of focus you need. However, if you’re not getting enough water in your day, these diuretics will make you jittery and irritable. Hydration is key to staying healthy, so try to limit your consumption of caffeinated beverages.
3) Start studying early – What seems to be common sense to any impartial bystander is often ignored by frantic college students. The more of a head start you get on your studying, the more prepared you will be. I try to plan at least a week’s worth of course review, so that if gaping holes in my knowledge appear I have time to do something about them.
4) On a similar note, DON’T study the night before an exam – This old adage that they told you in SAT prep classes applies to your college tests as well. Chances are you aren’t going to be retaining anything you’re trying to learn or review at this point. Watch a movie, play a video game, go to the gym, or just hang out with your friends. De-stressing and getting enough rest is the best preparation you can get the night before a test. I can’t emphasize this point enough – don’t fall prey to the “last-minute-all-nighter-double-header” study sessions your friends or floor mates might be engaging in, it’s not worth it.
These four tips may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how easy it is to forget about them or rationalize not doing them. Stand by this list, and make sure you’re taking care of your physical and mental health, and you’ll be well on your way to midterm success.