Midterms are terrifying. So terrifying that they deserve their own season on American Horror Story. But unlike the various seasons of the beloved AHS, it’s possible to escape the clutches of midterms. CM did some investigating for a midterm survival guide, featuring advice from seasoned college seniors on how to make it through midterm season.
1. Come Up with a Game Plan
The best way to go into any tricky thing in life is with a plan of action. Make a few goals about what you want to study and when, or how much of that paper you want to get done each day. “I don’t necessarily follow my plan exactly, but it gives me an idea as to how much material I have to study,” said Julie Romualdez, Cornell University senior. Colleen Brady, Boston College senior, agrees. “I make a schedule about a week in advance. Using a white board has been my favorite studying method.” So break out those dry erase markers and draft your strategy, because it’ll jumpstart the rest of your tactics.
2. Pick Your Hiding (Study) Spot
Whether you want to hole yourself up in a secluded place on campus or find somewhere louder and bustling, you need a place that is most productive for you. For some it’s a coffee shop and for others it’s the silent library, but your study spot can make a world of a difference. “My midterm method pretty much involves a few things: a good spot, a comfy sweater and a lot of water,” said Boston College senior Chris Pinto.
3. Make a Team
They say two heads are better than one, so working with others is a step up from being alone. Recruit a few friends to study with you. You can help each other figure out a certain trouble chapter. If they’re not in your classes, you can just keep each other company while you work away into the wee hours of the morning. Allison LaRocco, Cornell University senior, uses this method to prep. “I like to study in groups with my friends. It helps keep me on track, and we can all suffer together.”
4. Take a Break
Marathon studying might seem efficient, but studying for long hours at a time can actually make it harder to retain the flashcards you’re so desperately trying to learn. Even if you have a whole day mapped out for studying, it’s important to take even a twenty-minute break here and there to maintain your sanity. “Balance is important. If you allow yourself a little break every so often, it’ll help you focus on what you really need to,” said Kirsten Haley, Boston College senior.
5. Remember to Recharge
In the midst of the stress and busyness of midterms, students often forget to eat or treat food as something secondary. Eating is incredibly important for your health and to power through your studying. Take a little bit of time to make sure you get in your meals, or even munch on smaller snacks throughout the day. The food will give you more energy, which will help you be more productive when you need to focus on powerpoints.
6. Find Your Friends
Even though everyone is holed up somewhere with a ton of bulky textbooks, it’s a good idea to take some time to see your friends. Many people find that an easy way to do this (and check off number 5 while you’re at it) is to eat meals with friends. “Just eating with other people instead of with your book can be such a stress-reliever,” Pinto said. So even if you have to drag your friend (or yourself) away from that book, make sure you spend some time with them to avoid study comas.
7. Take Time for Yourself
Following steps 1 through 6 will put you in a great place for surviving midterms, but they might be useless if you don’t take time for yourself. This can be different for everyone. “I make sure to take time to do things I like in between studying, like baking an excessive number of loaves of bread,” LaRocco said. Even though it might seem like you barely have time to breathe when preparing for midterms, taking even a little bit of time to paint your toenails can go a long way.
8. Use the Stress as a Motivator
Though stress usually has a negative connotation, a little bit of stress is actually a motivator. If you’re not stressed at all, you might lose the fight against midterms because you won’t try at all. “I take a deep breath and use the stress to motivate me toward passing the exam,” said Nick Robinson, Boston College senior. The stress will make sure you crack open those books and study, instead of just crossing your fingers and hoping it all goes well.