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Midterms: The seahorses of university

By Brigid Conroy, 3rd-year Biochemistry student

Did you know that seahorses are actually one of the stealthiest creatures of the sea*? So then maybe it would be fair to call midterms the seahorses of University life. A moment ago you were coasting carefree through week one and suddenly BAM! midterms snuck up on you! If you haven’t quite figured out how you’re tackling this midterm season yet, you’ve come to the right place! There are a few simple steps you can take to put yourself back in control and reduce your stress at this hectic time of year.

Firstly, when facing the impending midterm season, reflect on your fall semester midterms. Think about your midterm experience – did you feel balanced or overwhelmed? How were your coffee intake and sleep schedule? Then reflect on the outcomes – were your grades what you had hoped? Did you have to miss lectures to study? Jot down time-management strategies that worked well last semester or new strategies you’d like to implement.

Be informed about your midterms. Ensure that midterm dates are in your planner or term calendar and clarify the percentage value of the midterm and material that is testable. Gather any study materials you are missing, like lecture notes or readings that were put on hold when cold season swept through!

Make a study plan. A plan of attack is the best way to ensure that you meet your deadlines and maintain balance this midterm season! Divide the content to be covered in each course into chunks and assign these chunks to study blocks of approximately 3 hours per subject per day. Remember to use the 50/10 rule: take a 10-minute break for every 50 minutes of study to maximize your concentration! Start as early as possible so that your studying can be spread out over several days.

When making your study plan, incorporate time for both initial learning and reviewing. It is important to separate time spent deepening your understanding of a topic from time spent reviewing to improve your recall. Ideally, begin each study session by reviewing information covered the day before and end with a self-test. Especially if you find yourself short on time, be strategic in your studying. Identify key concepts and focus on content you don’t know. The 5-Day Study Plan is a great template for creating your midterm study schedule.

Most importantly, use relaxation techniques to manage midterm stress, maintain positive thinking, and share what you’ve learned today about both seahorses and midterm studying with your friends and classmates!

*Check it out at The Smithsonian.com.

Photo courtesy of shellac under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.