How to Survive Midterm Season, in Five Simple Steps

Five key ways to help you jump over the mid-semester hurdle.

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How to Survive Midterm Season - five simple steps to keep you organized and ultra-productive during midterms

The midway point of any semester can cause a lull in your hustle. You’re planning your upcoming travel, the end of the semester is within sight, and the thought of break being so close is having you dream of no homework and sleeping in. On top of all that, it’s midterm season. 

Staying on top of things and prioritizing your to-do list can be difficult when you’re being pulled a million different directions. Here are five ways to stay sane and tackle midterm season at the same time.

Get Organized and Plan Ahead

desk, planner, laptop, study, organized

Aside from your exam study guides, your planner is your midterm survival guide. Ever since I started using one five years ago, I haven’t been able to live without one since! My planner contains all my important test dates, assignment due dates, club meetings, appointments, work hours, and important memos and reminders. I like to color code everything with highlighters, so when I glance at my week, I know exactly what I need to do. 

Having an organized desk and study area is essential to getting things done. Nothing’s worse than having a cluttered desk and no space to set down your notebook and laptop. I found that even going through the act of cleaning and organizing my study space helps to clear my mind and motivate me to sit down and start checking things off my to-do list.  

You should also prioritize your time. Prioritize by dates, how much each exam/quiz/project is worth, and your knowledge of the topic. That way, you’ll be spending your precious minutes on the things that are most likely to help your GPA.

Once you know what you need to be doing, be sure that you’re timing your week and planning ahead. Planning out your week will make your goals clear, help you check off your to-do list one item after another, and let you know when you have the free time to kick back and relax. 

It’s All About Motivation

motivation, friends

I think that we can all agree that the more you’re forced to do something, the more you don’t want to do it. This applies to studying. We all want an A and a 4.0 GPA, but once learning becomes a chore and we’re forced to retain all this information – only to spit it back out on the exams – we stop caring about learning the information we were once excited about. 

College definitely has its ups and downs, it’s more challenging than easy, and the overwhelming course work can have you wondering why you decided to go to school for four more years. That doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of the time you have left! 

I decided to pursue college because I wanted to continue learning, I wanted to give myself the brightest future in my career field as possible, and I’m a sucker for highlighters and new school supplies. In addition to having fun and making new memories, it’s helpful to remind yourself of the positives and the reasons you’re here.

It’s all about staying motivated, whether you motivate yourself with inspiring words, your #GirlSquad is your hype team, or you never miss a FaceTime call with your family and pets back home. Figuring out what you need to do, finding what works for you, and working at your own pace is how you really get things done! 

Don’t Forget to Recharge

bed, sheets, comforter, white, girl, sleepy, sleeping, recharge, rest

Staying motivated and always going is a for-sure way to get things done, but don’t forget to recharge. All that energy has to come from somewhere!

Whether you like to hit the gym, hang out with friends, or have me-time, it’s important to find the perfect balance between go-go-go and relaxing. It can be as easy as taking a day off from homework and studying, or claiming the weekends as your time.

Take advantage of what your university may have to offer. Whether it’s widely advertised or you have to do a little bit of research, universities tend to put a lot of thought into student life when it comes it testing season, usually free of charge. Free counseling sessions, therapy dogs, and group fitness classes are the most popular stress-relieving methods at my university. Talking to professionals about managing stress and test anxiety, petting dogs on my way to class, and taking that yoga class I’ve always wanted to try never fails to lift the rain cloud that seems to follow people around during midterm season.

As well, be sure to build breaks into your studying! I know that I’ve tried cramming too much information into one study session (especially if its the night before the exam) but this can be counterproductive and unhealthy. If you’re going to study for a long time, try the 55:5 method. Take five minutes for yourself for every hour you study. This can be stretching, getting a snack, or anything that would help you keep going. Make sure you set a reminder so you know when to get back to work, though.

Get a Change of Scenery (Depending on What Works for You)

Via Unsplash

Studying at home is the ultimate trap for me. Bored? I can turn on the TV. Hungry? I can clean out my whole fridge. Tired? I can jump into bed. When I’m stuck on campus all day five times a week, studying at the library can be confining. Sometimes, I just want to look at something other than my desk and stacks of books.

Studying at coffee shops and cafes is a great way to get off campus, explore town, find new places, and be in a new environment.

Whether you like to study alone or with your friends, getting a change of scenery will feel like a breath of fresh air. Going to my favorite coffee shop and putting in my earphones helps me get in the zone and focus on nothing but homework. Not to mention, there’s copious amounts of caffeine and Insta-worthy shots to take. 

If you’re having trouble with the material, consider seeking out help instead of going it alone: Most professors have office hours for students who need it. If that doesn’t work, someone in your class may have notes you can borrow or be able to explain the information in an easier manner.

Also, a reminder to pay attention to yourself and what works for you: If you know that you get distracted when you’re with friends you may want to study on your own. On the flip side if you can’t focus when you’re alone, you might want to join a study group or study with people who can help you stay on task.

Don’t Forget About Your Health

fruit, plate, raspberries, blueberries, breakfast, snack

Pushing your health aside is the last thing you should do during a stressful and demanding time. 

I know it’s tempting to focus only on school, but you have to take care of yourself. I can’t imagine having to tackle midterms AND a cold at the same time.

During the weeks leading up to exams, make sure that your habits are healthy. Eat quality foods, get a good night’s sleep, and exercise plenty. Exercising will ensure that you have natural energy to get you through the day. It will also be a welcomed break from all that thinking! Yoga and meditation are also excellent ways to beat stress and stay healthy.

Healthy snacks are key for studying, too — they give you something to munch on while you study, they fuel your body, and provide a built-in reason to take breaks. Packing snacks for the library is a great tip for saving money, and it saves you from vending machine food. If you don’t have time to make elaborate meals, fast and easy to make snacks are better than nothing! 

Finally, be careful with caffeine. I know you are gasping at the thought, but I’m serious: Too much caffeine can have major consequences and consuming it too late in the day can mess up your sleep schedule. It’s best to avoid caffeine after three PM as it can mess with your sleep later at night. And make sure you aren’t overdoing it, period: This site lets you know how much caffeine is too much, and all you need to do is type in your drink and weight.

How are you thriving during midterms?

What are you tips and tricks to getting through midterm season? Let me know in the comments below!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2018; it was completely updated and revamped in 2019 with new photos and information.

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