Midterms can be just as scary as finals. While they may not hold the complete cumulative weight, they are still an important part of class curriculums and often serve as a benchmark for how well you are learning the material. You will want to do to your best with these exams and to think you can avoid stressing over them simply because they are not the finals may be a bit of a stretch, but these techniques and tips can at least help to manage and lower your stress.
1. Take Regular Breaks
Studying is important, but so are breaks. Your brain needs time to process and absorb information, and continuously cramming notes and material into it won’t help you learn and remember anything as much as it will simply overwhelm you. Set a timer to take small breaks to give both your brain and your body a chance to rest and recuperate.
Forcing yourself to study for long periods of time will not only wear you out physically but also mentally as our brains do not have the attention span to look at material for hours on end. Chances are at one point you will find yourself re-reading the same page and nothing will get done. A fifteen-minute break is more than enough time for a soft reset and leaves you refreshed, so you can resume studying.
Exercise is a great way to help relieve any stress you have building up. Give your body a chance to work out all those nervous jitters and you may just be amazed at how much better you feel after an hour at the gym. Exercising releases endorphins that both numb your body to pain and trigger a positive feeling that is similar to the effects of morphine.
If you find yourself needing to take a long break, consider taking a run around campus or a fitness class at the gym. It’s hard to hold onto stress after wearing your body out. With a nice shower to cool yourself off, you’ll be feeling refreshed and ready to take on any subject. Just remember that over-exercising can put a strain on your muscles, especially if you’re not used to it. So be sure to take a day off to let your body recuperate.
3. Declutter Your Study Area
Studies show that trying to study in a messy space is less effective because of all the distractions around you. If you are going to study in your room or at your desk, take a few moments to organize the space around you. Put any books you are currently not using on the shelf, throw any trash and move wayward papers, pencils, and pens into a drawer or a file organizer.
If your room is simply overcrowded then consider studying in a different location such as the library or in an unused classroom where desks and tables are free and clear for the incoming students.
4. Talk to People
Sometimes you just need the time to vent to others and share your frustrations. Talking to friends, family, or an adult you trust can be a great way to settle any inner turmoil. Put aside the papers and get a meal at the cafeteria or take a walk and catch up, talking may not only be therapeutic for you but for your partner as well. Everyone needs a venting buddy at some point, especially during test season.
If you find that a friend is not enough or that your stress is beginning to affect other aspects of your life, consider speaking with a counselor, either academic or certified. They will help you develop tools and skills to manage stress and can also be helpful in assessing your course load which may need to be adjusted or lightened.
5. Take Notes and Review
This should be obvious, but it would be difficult to study for an exam if you don’t have any materials to study from. Yes, you could simply use a textbook, but not all professors may assign one, and even then, it’s hard to study material when you are overwhelmed with all the information and contents of the textbook.
Notes are summaries of information that you believe to be most important from your professor’s lectures and reading materials for the class. You will want to take your notes by hand rather than type in a computer. Writing by hand it is said to be equivalent to reading information seven times. Reviewing notes alone or with friends will help cement important information as you prepare for your exams.
6. Get Enough Sleep
This doesn’t mean close your eyes for two hours, or after pulling an all-nighter. A healthy amount of sleep for a young adult means at least 7 hours of actual shut-eye a night. You need a night of restful sleep, and this doesn’t mean to simply lay down and scroll through your Instagram on night mode. Without sleep, your brain will not be able to absorb and retain any information you studied, and you will most likely end up forgetting it by the time your test rolls around.
Forcing yourself to stay awake and study is not only detrimental to your health, but to your grade as well. Staying awake for 48 hours is not helpful to your brain with memorizing those equations any better. Instead of studying with an alert and focused mind, you will most likely end up fighting sleep at your desk.
7. Eat Healthily
Sometimes you need a sugar boost, and that’s perfectly fine, but eating nothing but chips and downing sodas will not help your study habits in a way you are probably hoping for. When stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol in order to manage it. However, cortisol is also released in relation to blood sugar, so eating nothing but sugary foods and drinks, which raises your blood sugar level, can lead to you feeling more stressed instead helping to avoid stress.
If you need an energy boost, tea is a great way to get caffeine into your system, and if you’re feeling hungry then healthy snacks such as fruits and nuts are a great option. These foods contain natural sugar and fats instead of processed ones found in packaged foods, and you are less likely to feel heavy or sleepy after eating them. Water is also always good to keep handy as staying hydrated is an important part of your body functioning properly every day.