Back-to-back exams, 10-page-plus papers, late-night cram sessions on top of the rest of your homework — the dreaded midterm season is finally here. 

You may think you can run to Starbucks at 11 p.m. the night before your exam so you can over-caffeinate and pull an all-nighter. But that’s a terrible idea, and you know it. There are more efficient ways to ensure you pass your midterms. So, dear reader, if you’re struggling to study or stressing about your midterms, follow these tips.

  1. If you have a morning midterm, please eat breakfast. Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day because it improves focus and boosts energy. Eat a breakfast filled with protein and carbs so you aren’t hungry during your exam. If you want to have caffeine, have only a little bit — the last thing you need is to be extra anxious during your exam.
  2. Don’t start studying the night before the exam. If you can, study a little bit each night, starting about two weeks before your midterm. You can study with a group or study alone. If you do study with a group, make sure you’re staying on task.
  3. Find a good place to study. If you prefer a quiet space, my favorite study spot is the Great Hall in Rush Rhees because it doesn’t get too crowded. If you need background noise in order to focus, iZone might be right for you. 
  4. Use active recall to make sure you’re studying efficiently. Instead of staring at your notes for hours, try making flashcards or explaining concepts to friends. 
  5. Start going to bed early a week before your exam. This helps to reset your circadian rhythm. If you go to bed early for the first time the night before the exam, you’ll probably have trouble falling asleep. If you prepare a week in advance, by the time your exam comes up, you’ll be more used to going to bed early and will fall asleep faster. You should also make sure you’re well-rested before the test so you’re fully awake during it.
  6. Lastly, stay hydrated! Dehydration leads to fatigue, and when you’re fatigued, it’s hard to stay focused. Make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day, and if your professor allows it, bring a water bottle with you to the test.

By following these tips, you have a greater chance of passing your exams. Make sure to take care of yourself during this stressful time of the semester. Self-care is very important too, so maybe reward yourself with a face mask or some ice cream after you take your test. Remember that you’re here for a reason — because you’re smart and capable of crushing those midterms! Good luck!

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