Brace Yourself: Midterms are coming

Allison McInnis | Assistant Opinion Editor | The USD Vista | @allisonmcinnis_

stressed student

Midterm season is upon many of us, or for some lucky ones, already finished. You may be thinking that it’s the end of the world.

University of San Diego students have all had that week in college: four midterms, two papers, a pile of homework and the only thing you can think about? Taking a nap.

It can be extremely intimidating, and, at least for me, it usually ends in a stressful bout of tears. Luckily, there are things you can do to stop the tears and begin the productivity. Trust me, Netflix will be there after your midterm.

  1. Set up a daily study schedule.

It’s easy to get distracted when there’s so much to do and you feel overwhelmed. Divide and conquer. Plan out your study times with as many subjects as you need and take a five minute break every 30 minutes. Breaks might seem useless when you have 47 more pages to read, but if you don’t take some time to relax, you won’t retain as much and might actually go crazy.

Although it may be hard, avoid technology during those small breaks. A harmless short Facebook check can easily turn into stalking your ex-boyfriend’s sister’s roommate for 45 minutes. Instead, take a walk or do some stretches. Get your blood pumping before jumping back into the books.

  1. Make sure you’re getting some sleep.

I know that sleep can be hard to get during midterm season, but it is important for your body and for your sanity. A study from New York University showed that sleeping develops new connections between neurons formed when memories from the day are replayed during sleep.

If you can’t catch some shut-eye, the next best alternative is something that every college student already knows about: caffeine. I know I don’t have to tell you how much a cup of coffee can help after a long night of studying, but there are scientific reasons why it helps. Johns Hopkins University conducted a study in which they found that 200 milligrams of caffeine (about two 8 ounce cups) boosts memory for up to 24 hours. Chewing gum has also been proved to help memory, as long as you chew the same gum while studying that you do during the exam.

  1. Get help if you need it: join a study group or ask for help.

If you’ve read the notes, read the book, and you’re still confused, there are more places to go. YouTube is a great source of informational videos. For math or science classes, check out Khan Academy. They can usually clear up a cloudy area of the subject for you. Also, try emailing the professor. They are usually really understanding, especially the days leading up to an exam, and may be willing to help.

Another option is to join a study group. Your peers around you can hold you accountable for your study time, and helping others has proved to be an extremely effective way of studying. It is basically reinforcing what you already knew. Plus, sometimes all you need is a change of scenery. If you get restless in one place, move to a new spot. Maybe working outside in the sun can help improve your mood and, therefore, your focus.

Try to find some awesome and useful study techniques that work for you. Create a playlist that gets you in the studying mood. I’ve had friends who only listen to Andy Grammer while studying and when they hear his music, they feel motivated to study. You can use notecards to memorize all of the vocabulary. If you need to, write everything out. It may seem time consuming and a bit tedious, but evidence shows that writing it out helps you to memorize and to retain the information.

An important part of the studying process is to remain calm. Even if it’s the night before the test, and you still feel like you know nothing, don’t stress to the point of delirium. Of course, try not to wait until then to get started studying. If negative thoughts pop into your head, immediately replace them with positive and affirmative ones. Instead of stressing and cramming, skim the book the night before or the morning of the exam.

When you feel like midterms are more than you can handle, take some deep breaths. Remind yourself it’s just a test. It won’t be the end of the world either way, so just try your best.