Queen's University Logo
--IMPORTANT NOTICE-- Up-to-date COVID-19 information Click Here

How to Survive Midterm Season!

Hey Gaels!

The semester is well underway and I hope it has gone successfully for you thus far. How are you feeling at this point of the year? I always try to take some time at the end of each week or two to analyze what I did well and what I can try to improve on. As we head into the midterm season and final assignments and exams beyond, it is important to learn from our mistakes!   

October, the dreaded midterm season, can be a very stressful month for students of all years and programs. I’ve had my fair share of cramming sessions and late-night coffee runs to help me stay awake over the past two years during this time of the semester. That means I would consider myself well versed in knowing how not to handle midterm season!

For me, imposter syndrome kicks in during midterms because I suddenly feel as though I am not prepared to be in a third-year epidemiology course or an advanced biochemistry course. Of course, at the same time, I assume all my peers must be doing way better than me! But spending time in study groups over the past few weeks has helped me understand that so many other students are in a very similar situation. It reminded me that university is not always a walk in the park and that our mindset plays a large role in our ability to succeed. If you struggle with imposter syndrome, Shahnawaz just wrote a great blog on the topic—make sure to check it out.

Another habit of mine during midterms is to watch Netflix. Netflix has become my coping mechanism to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to complete. I easily get anxious about workload. When I do, I quickly put away my books and watch an episode of my favourite shows (Brooklyn 99 usually does the trick). But then I get trapped: one 30-minute episode turns into me binge watching 5-6 episodes in one sitting. I learned the hard way that doing this makes me even more stressed. A few things that have helped me to overcome this spiral have been:

  1. I don’t auto-save my Netflix password on my laptop. When I open the website, I’ll be taken to the log-in page rather than automatically seeing my favourite shows. That extra barrier sometimes helps me reconsider what I’m doing! I have also removed Netflix from my bookmark tab, providing yet one more barrier between me and escape.
  2. Studying with peers gives me a sense of community that helps me feel motivated to put forth my best effort. Pro tip: from my experience, studying in groups of 4-6 people is an ideal study group size. If you’re still not sure of where to find peers to study with, head to SASS’ study hall sessions on Friday afternoons, 2-3pm, in Stauffer 121: you’ll be sure to find a supportive and friendly group to help you out!
  3. I give myself a real reward when I do complete planned work. I personally love to play a game of FIFA 21 after a hard-working day or study session. It sounds simple, but positive reinforcement works wonders. So stop studying more and more, and set some small goals, stop when you’re done, and enjoy the good feelings!
  4. I use the SASS Assignment Planner to break large assignments down into manageable chunks, which makes a seemingly impossible task very much possible. Sometimes you just need something to simplify something that seems overwhelming.

One of my goals this year is to manage my time better. I hope to make this midterm season my most effective one yet—without adding to my feelings of being overwhelmed. Attending in-person classes, spending time with friends, and collaborating with club members to create events has been such an amazing experience this year. However, this busier environment has made it harder for me to stay on track. To help me manage my time and stick to deadlines, I created an Excel sheet that has all my due dates for the year. Here’s a screenshot of the beginning of my “Due Date List”:

My Due Date List:

screenshot of excel sheet with course codes, task titles, due dates, and completion status

As you can see, I’ve listed the course, assignment, due date, and competition status for each assignment/test. Just taking a glance at this sheet each day helps me to understand what I need to work on for the day! If you are like me and easily forget due dates, this is an awesome and low-effort way to help you stay on track. You can also have a section on the sheet for any non-academic due dates (e.g. creating an Instagram post for your club, attending an event, etc.) to stay on top of everything!

Whether you are preparing for your midterms or are finishing up your last one already, I wish you all the very best! I cannot wait to see how the rest of the semester will unfold.

See you next time! – Santosh