Midterms are slowly but surely creeping up on everyone, and if you’re like me, you’re probably using every free second to study until the last minute, as if cramming in every minute leading up to the exam will make everything stick and. Depending on the class, this could be done, but don’t count on that. Considering I have my first midterm tomorrow at 9:30 a.m., though, I figured some tips would be appropriate for this week. It took me six years of community college leading into my transferring here to figure out what would work for me. Hopefully some of these tips will work for you, so it doesn’t take you six years here!
1. Realize you are not your GPA
This took me a while to grasp myself. My first semester here I got my first 3.0 GPA, and then I found out about the Dean’s List, which led to my being shattered in my second semester when I didn’t quite make the number, still having gotten a 3.2. Don’t do this to yourself. While some people looking to hire you might still be interested in that stuff these days, it is not the be all and end all. While it’s definitely good to aim for anything above a C+ period, it shouldn’t make you so crazy with ambition you let studying consume you entirely. That was my biggest mistake up until this semester.
2. Take a break between studying
When you finish reading a part of what you need to study for the exam, don’t just go to the next chapter. Get up and get some water and a small snack (I always have nuts and small fruits to munch on when I’m at home reading for hours), walk your dog, or just go for a walk around the block. Or even meditate for a few minutes if nothing else. A few minutes alone will refocus yourself and get you back feeling less stressed and better about the rest of that which you need to do for that day. Meditation apps like the Calm app (available for both iOS and Android) are great for these moments.
3. Make Time for Quiet Reflection
Turn off your phone and do something for a small bit of time that keeps you relaxed and allows you to retain what you’ve studied all day. Go to the Museum of Fine Arts or the movies (pro tip: some places like the MFA will let you in for free if you show them a student ID, and not just on certain days either) That doesn’t mean goof off, but it does mean go out and do something. (Or stay in and read a favorite book or watch a show you like if you don’t feel like bothering with people that day, that’s fine too).
4. Don’t wait until the last minute
Even if it does work for you, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best way to do it. Study the material a little bit each day. If you’re lucky, some professors will have review sheets on Blackboard leading up until the exam. Follow this, preferably from the moment it’s uploaded to when you take the exam.