Surviving the midterms mayhem

College midterms have arrived! Do you have what it takes to survive the mayhem of midterms? Your teachers are reassuring you that you’re in good hands, despite the fact that they didn’t provide a study guide, and you want to make the Dean’s List. It’s a recipe for disaster. Stay focused and strong by avoiding the mayhem of a failing grade before it happens with these healthy study tips.

Photo via The New York Times

Study smart

When you’ve procrastinated beyond the point of no return, these study tips will help you make it through the test.

  • Go offline. Get off Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and that other addicting website you tell all your friends about. You’re not studying when you’re having 30 conversations at once. Unplug for a while and give all your attention to your work.
  • Play catch-up. If your teacher posts PowerPoints from lectures, review them! You probably didn’t take notes on them while you were in class (obviously you wouldn’t waste your time on them because they’re online) but they are still a helpful tool. Download each one and take notes on the basics of each of them. A quick overview can help you identify they key points of what will be on the exam in record timing.
  • Do your research. Talk to a student who has taken the course before you. Every professor has a different method of teaching and testing, and it’s your job to find out what that is BEFORE you subject yourself to an “E”. Former students can help give you tips on how to study for testing style. For instance, your professor is big on vocabulary in lectures. Knowing beforehand if you’ll be writing out each definition or filling in multiple choice bubbles can make a world of difference in the way you need to study. Help others help you to focus your time on what’s most important.
  • Try the decaf. Limit the caffeine or any kind of productivity-enhancing tricks you might have to a minimum. Most of the time you’ll be more productive doing something entirely irrelevant than you will studying. (Yes, I did just make up that statistic) As a coffee and chai tea lover, I can assure you my apartment is immaculate after a late night caffeine run and there always seems to be more laundry, sweeping and dish washing going on and less studying than any other time.
  • Get some Z’s. Don’t pull an all-nighter. If you can’t operate heavy machinery, you probably won’t be able to remember anything you tried to cram for. You need to know that your sleep and sanity is just as important as getting a good grade. Despite what you may have heard, an all-nighter studying for a class you’ve never bothered to open a book for isn’t doing your brain or your body any good.
  • Healthy body, healthy grades. Fit some exercise into your cram session. Instead of taking that Facebook break, go for a quick run or get a 20-minute workout. Exercise is proven to help retain information because it increases blood flow to your brain.
  • Get a little TLC. Call your Mom, brother, sister, roommate or whoever you would normally vent to for a quick conversation. Their job is to make you feel better and their kind words will make you feel smarter. Keeping a level head and not getting overwhelmed will help you perform better than a student with severe test anxiety.
  • Have fun with it. Attend a study session or hold your own. Freshman year I created a Jeopardy game for my group of friends to help us study for a midterm. Sure, it was a little juvenile and something our teachers would make us do in elementary school, but I did really well on the test and I was able to remember the content. Taking studying out of its normal format will help trigger your memory differently than if you studied straight from the text.
  • Communication is key. Call your TA. Visit your professor. Ask for help. These people are paid to teach you and help you learn and succeed. Unless you’ve told them you don’t understand what’s going on or you need help, they automatically assume things are fine and you feel great about the material. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Soothing sounds. Listen to music — not heavy metal or anything too catchy, but something quiet and peaceful that can easily fall into the background and help you focus.
  • There’s safety in numbers. Tell your roommate when your midterms are. This way, you both know when you need to tip-toe around and be a little kinder than normal. Also, you have the ability to save them from themselves and protect them from oversleeping.
  • Find a book nook. Create a safe study space and think of it as your studying sanctuary. You don’t want to be around anything too distracting, so move away from all hangout spots, party rooms and the obnoxiously loud video gamers. The library is a good alternative if all else fails.
  • Have a food fix. Remember to eat something before your test. When you’re starving, your mind doesn’t function properly (remember, calories are energy). No one wants to hear your stomach growling as they’re racking their brain for correct answers.

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Good luck on those midterms, Devils!