The crisp piles of leaves, the slow debuts of carved pumpkins and the chilly breeze are all signs of October, but perhaps nothing marks this time of year better than stressed out students crammed into the library as they study for their dreaded…..MIDTERMS.
As a first year student these midterms caught me completely by surprise. It felt like mere days had gone by since moving in yet all of a sudden I was faced with the gruelling reality that I would have to write my first set of university exams. After hours of complaining and procrastinating, I realized I really had to sit down and start cracking open those textbooks (if only I had started earlier!). I was beyond stressed for these midterms, fearing everything from being unprepared to being unable to bear the stress of a room of 200 people writing at the same time…
Fresh off the midterm season, here is my best advice:
-START EARLY…I know you’ve heard this countless times before from your teachers, friends, guidance counsellors, parents and probably everyone else in between. And I know chances are, you still won’t do it even after I tell you to. My only hope is that this piece of advice will stick in the back of your mind and when the time comes for you to choose between an hour of Wii/watching Gossip Girl/drinking, uh, juice or an hour of doing some practice problems, you will choose the latter.
-Find a great study spot! I cannot stress this enough! During exam season, virtually every nook and cranny of the library will be occupied and most classrooms are filled up with classes and extra tutorials. Make sure you find an optimal study spot early and commit yourself to that location. Some of my friends were able to study in their residence rooms with no problem, but for myself it was just too full of distractions. Once you do find “your spot” though, it’ll make studying that much easier because your mind and body will know it’s time to get to work.
-Bring on the coffee! …or whatever else you need to get yourself focused. Go for a jog, eat something, put on your favourite pair of reading glasses or blast some music—do whatever it takes to signal to your body that you will need to focus and study. Caffeine (in moderation) does make a difference for many, but only drink it if you know it helps you get down to work.
-Call your friends and family! Do not isolate yourself at this very stressful period of your life. Make sure you stay sane by booking some time off from the books to vent to loved ones, get some very indulgent comfort food or maybe curl up with some leisure reading. Whatever it is, remember that while it is important to try your best on those exams, there is much more to life than midterm exams. Most of the time they are worth very little relative to your finals!
My midterms all fell in one week and though it was definitely tough, the euphoric feeling of tackling my first set of university exams made those many hours of eye strain, endless amounts of coffee consumption and living in the library worth it. Good luck!
JANE WU is a Shad UBC 07 alumnus, Youth Canada fan and a first year student at Queen’s University. She is passionate about equal opportunity, philanthropy and youth community engagement. She loves to hear new ideas, meet new people and gain new insight (so send her an email!). :)