Midterms week is going to be crazy no matter what, so it’s a good idea to be prepared for what you’re getting into before it’s here.
Step 1: Know your midterm schedule
The very first thing you want to do is get out your syllabuses and write down all of your exam dates in a calendar so that you can get a feel for what’s ahead. You may have several midterms within the same week—on top of having a term paper due. Scheduling this in advance gives you time to prepare accordingly. If you know what you have on your plate, it won’t sneak up on you, in turn reducing your end-of-term stress.
Without proper planning, it’s easy to find yourself buried in work come midterms week, feeling like you just want to curl up into a ball and cry—if only you had the time! This might sound a tad dramatic, but you nonetheless want to avoid overloading yourself. Even if you have several exams in a row, getting organized and preparing will help you avoid burnout. It also helps to plan some time to relax after your exams are complete.
Step 2: Prepare for your exams accordingly
Do whatever you do to stay on top of your study material. This may mean reading the textbook before every class, re-writing your notes, making flashcards, or watching videos to help you master difficult lessons and ensure you stay on track. If you prepare throughout the semester you won’t have to buckle down as much in the weeks immediately prior to midterms.
Research suggests that studying in spaced-out intervals is more effective for retaining information than studying a lot in a short period of time, so you should avoid cramming. It’ll help you in the long run. If you’re a chronic procrastinator, this is easier said than done. Make it part of your daily routine to review material. If you’re always caught up, you’ll know when you encounter new material that is more difficult and can make time to get help. That way, you won’t get behind and can spend your midterms week reviewing instead of teaching yourself material that you’ll be seeing for the first time.
Step 3: Breathe in, breathe out
Stress can be a healthy motivator when studying, but it’s not your friend during midterms week. While just about everyone experiences some level of pressure before an exam, you don’t want to have so much anxiety that it affects your scores. If you’ve followed the first two steps above, you won’t feel as stressed—though no amount of preparation can guarantee you won’t experience some test anxiety. The key is to manage it.
Going for a run, calling up a friend or family member, or taking a break are all great ways to blow off steam before or during exam week. Find an activity that gets you out of the study grind and focusing on something else, whether it be sports, doodling, shopping, chatting, or watching Netflix.
Taking a breather and being active actually yields better exam scores than pushing through a study break. When you don’t take a break, it’s easy to lose focus. No one can study non-stop for a whole week, so find something that helps you disengage and relax. Studying doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) pull you away from the rest of your life, especially if you’re fully prepared walking into midterms week.