These tests have been circled on your calendar and highlighted on your syllabi. You’ve been nervous just thinking about them since the first week of the semester. It’s finally here. Midterm week.
So have you been procrastinating and haven’t cracked open the book yet? Or have you been studying so much that you are on the verge of a mental breakdown? Either way, relax. Just follow a few of these tips and you will be on your way to acing your exams and surviving midterm week.
Determining how to study for particular classes can be a challenge in itself. Should you make flashcards? Join a study group? Memorize the professors’ study guides?
Everyone has a unique learning style, so be sure to embrace yours. You will find that remembering anything from the structure of the elements in the periodic table to the theories behind differences in communication styles will be much easier.
Whichever method of studying you choose, here are some tips to help you out:
- Break up your studying into 20-50 minute increments, followed by a short 5-10 minute break.
- Change the topic or subject that you study every hour. This will help you to stay interested and efficient while learning material.
- Study in the day time! An hour of studying during the day is twice as productive than studying at night!
- Make a task list of what you want to accomplish during a session of studying and cross off items as you go along. Not only will this help you to focus, but it will also let you see your progress!
- Give yourself some incentives! For every 3 chapters you read, give yourself 10 minutes on Facebook or for every set of lecture notes you get through, talk a walk around the library or wherever you are studying at.
(Material from Dartmouth’s website.)
Studying for hours or thinking about how you should have started studying for your test earlier can be stressful. That stress can make studying harder than it has to be.
When you need some relief, try these tips to get your focus back:
- Meditation: There are a bunch of apps (both free and low-cost) available on iTunes to guide you step by step through mediation to relax. Check out this video that teaches an insight meditation which allows your mind to think clearly and come up with new thoughts (perfect for when you are in a studying rut!)
- Deep Breathing: Instead of freaking out for tests, focus on breathing. A technique that I found on a stress relief website, explains to sit up straight with your hands on your stomach. When you take a deep breath in, make sure your hands are pushed away. Hold the breath for 5 seconds and repeat until you feel calm.
- Progressive Muscle Tensing: Start with your left leg. Tense up your leg muscles for 5 seconds, then release. Move up to your thigh & hip. Repeat. Continue up the left side of your body until you reach your neck and face, then switch to your right side. This will help your body learn to isolate tension and relieve your overall body tension that accumulates from stress.
- Coloring: Who knew a childhood activity could be relaxing? Google “coloring book pages” and print your favorites out or grab a piece of scratch paper and doodle. This will focus your nervous energy into doing something creative and will relieve your stress.
- Smile! Force yourself to smile 10 times in a row. After that, it will be hard not to laugh and forget about your midterm anxiety!
Midterms don’t have to be horrible. Study in a way that fits your learning style and use some of the relaxation techniques included in this post and you will be on your way to making the Dean’s List.
Have more study or relaxation tips? Leave us a comment!