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‘Tis the season… of midterms: Juggling everyday schoolwork with midterm prep

By Satinder Kaur, 3rd-year Biochemistry student

Thanksgiving weekend is over, it begins to snow, and that classic Kingston cold envelopes you in a one sided hug. This means a time has come – one scarier than Halloween – midterm season. Exams scheduled on top of schoolwork? How dare university level courses demand such a thing?

Midterms are sometimes more stressful than finals because they coincide with classes, assignments, and quizzes. It can be easy to get lost in chaos of midterm season, but there are several ways to keep yourself on track, happy, and even well rested!

  1. ABC Method of Prioritization.

This has been one of my favourite study tools since I learned about it because it is so effective. The way it works is dividing up your tasks by the amount of attention they need from you at this very moment.

A: The Fire Fighter trap (I must do this now or the house will burn down).

B: This is what its all about (activities that require planning).

C: This can wait for [any given timeframe].

For example, if it’s Saturday night and you have a lab due Monday, another lab due Tuesday, a midterm worth 25% on Wednesday, a prelab Thursday, and another assignment Friday, this method is key.
A: Lab due Monday, Lab due Tuesday
B: Studying for the midterm
C: Prelab and Friday’s assignment can wait until after Wednesday’s midterm.


  1. Do not re-hash on what you “should’ve done.”

This is the easiest trap to fall into, you have a long to do list, and it’s getting late and you start to get frustrated with yourself. The regrets of lounging at home and not spending more time studying are real. But be careful! This kind of negative self-talk is never helpful and can hinder your ability to get all your work done. Focus on what you are doing, not what you could have/should have done. If I find myself gearing towards this thought, I just focus on how great I’ll feel after I have accomplished what I wanted to for the day.


  1. Sleep!

You would think this is such an obvious tip because who doesn’t love to sleep? However, I know firsthand that my sleep schedule consists of 17 minute naps and 3 hours of sleep the night before an assignment is due during midterm season. It’s not a great feeling to be constantly tired so I’ve tried to find ways to maximize my sleep:

  • Unplug! Don’t check any social media once you’re in bed. Set an alarm and put the phone away.
  • Don’t go to bed hungry! Hunger can conflict with sleep, so a light snack is sufficient if your stomach is grumbling.
  • Look forward to sleep! If one night only resulted in 3 hours of sleep, the next night should be scheduled for the solid 8 hours. Remember 18 hours without sleep is the equivalent of being legally drunk!


Midterm season can be dreadful, but taking care of your physical and mental health during this time can enhance your ability to do well. Besides — you know what comes after midterm season? WINTER BREAK! Phew!

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