It’s common for students to start off the semester full of motivation and focus but find themselves drained and less motivated once midterm season approaches. Read on to learn how you can defeat your midterms this semester, instead of letting them defeat you.
Get Some Company
With the school closed, group study sessions at the SLC are no-longer an option to make pushing through midterm season a group effort. Despite not being able to meet in person, you can still coordinate with friends to bring some of the fun back into studying.
There are many options to schedule a virtual study session with friends – whether it be over Zoom, Facetime, Google Meets, or Skype. With all the technology available to us, there’s no reason why studying during a pandemic has to feel lonely.
Another alternative, if you miss the company of sitting with strangers in the library who are also cramming for their next midterm, is watching a “Study with Me” YouTube video. This can provide the right atmosphere without risking the chance of getting into a conversation and falling off track.
Break Work into Small Tasks
Everyone loves the feeling of crossing things off of their long to-do list. Rather than dedicating one long chunk of time to studying for one class, break up all of your preparation into smaller tasks, such as studying chapter by chapter.
This way, you’ll feel like you’re accomplishing more as you go along, preventing that feeling of defeat when you’ve been studying for so long you’ve lost track of whether or not you’re even getting anywhere.
This is also a great method to allow yourself regular breaks, which can be a make or break when it comes to sustaining long-term focus. For more tips on staying motivated, check out our post on staying motivated while staying home.
Create a Timeline
Once you’ve broken all your work into smaller tasks, figure out how many days you’ll need and create a plan accordingly. Many of us on TRMC like to use Google Sheets to create week by week schedules not only for midterm season, but for the entire semester. This helps us know what’s coming up in the weeks ahead and prevents any work from sneaking up on us.
The sooner you do this the better, so you can budget as many days as you need to spread out the work to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed.
Try Out New Study Methods
Midterm season is a great time to try out new study techniques. You’ve (hopefully) done the readings, gone to the classes and taken general notes, and now it’s time to recall.
Mind maps are a great way to test your memory and see how much you really remember. Try using different coloured pens, starting with one colour for what you recall from memory, and filling in the missing pieces afterwards with another colour.
If you’re less of a visual learner and more of an auditory learner, try recording yourself reading your notes (or even better – explaining concepts naturally while referencing your notes), and listening to them. This can be great for multitasking, if you have somewhere to be or need to walk the dog, you can fit some extra studying in with minimal effort required.
To take things a step further, pairing up with a friend and quizzing each other is a great way to gauge the progress you’ve made, and could even help you to understand things from a new perspective and remember them better later on.
Take Care of Yourself
This one is so important – many students tend to forget to drink enough water and eat proper meals during exam season. However, your ability to focus is closely tied with your physical well-being – so make sure to put your physical and mental health before anything else.
It’s easy to forget about these things when we’re wrapped up in our studies, so make sure to set reminders on your phone to take regular breaks and check in with yourself and ask yourself what you need. Are you thirsty, cold, tired, hungry? You may not realize you’re feeling these things while doing your work, but your focus and productivity will quickly start to decline, and your ability to retain the information you’re taking in will be impaired. Your body and mind are carrying you through midterm season, so make sure you treat them with kindness, patience and respect.
Check out our post on brain foods to read more about what kind of study snacks provide the best fuel for our brains, as well as our self-care series to learn more ways to check in with yourself during stressful times.
Make Time for Rewards
As previously mentioned, it’s important to acknowledge yourself for the progress you’ve made, even if it means celebrating the little wins. This is your official reminder that it is in fact okay, and actually healthy, to take breaks and reward yourself for your hard work. Even if it’s as simple as watching one episode of your favourite sitcom or stepping out to go for a walk and get some fresh air.
Making time to do things you enjoy helps bring some of the life back into midterm season, so try as best as you can to remember that you’re a human and you don’t need to spend all hours of the day studying.
Lost Motivation/Interest in One Subject? Switch to Another!
Studies have shown that short study sessions on alternating subjects are actually more effective than block studying, where a larger portion of time is dedicated to one subject. We all know what it’s like to get tired of a subject we normally enjoy – it can be upsetting and defeating to feel like even your favourite class has become a chore.
Once you’ve studied a bit on one subject, take a short break before switching over to another. Or, if you’ve been studying for a while and notice yourself getting bored of the material, switch over to studying for another class to give yourself a change of pace.
Similarly, switching environments can also be a great way to keep yourself engaged when you start to feel your focus slipping away.
Go for a Walk or Study Outside
Getting some fresh air can be a great way to recharge and relax after a long productive study session. If the weather permits and you have the space to do so, try studying outside to make it that much more enjoyable.
While the weather is still warm, consider getting together with some friends at a park for a socially distanced group study session. Everyone brings their own blanket and takes turns explaining concepts to one another – a great way to enjoy the outdoors while we still can, get those study hours in and stay safe by following COVID-19 rules.
Check Your Ergonomics
One of the worst things to get in the way of your studying is back pain – avoid it this semester by making sure you have an ergonomic-friendly workspace. This includes keeping your laptop at eye level, having a good chair that provides proper support, and space on your desk for your elbows to rest.
Don’t have a proper office chair at home? Grab a small pillow and keep it behind your back to help support your lower back – the part of our backs that takes a large portion of the stress while sitting in a chair.
If you don’t have a laptop stand, experiment by stacking a few books on top of each other to create a makeshift laptop stand. If you need to type, see if you have an old keyboard lying around from an old family computer and connect it so that your hands aren’t straining to reach up to the keys.
Get Enough Sleep
The most common issue among students during midterm season is the lack of sleep. While it may feel necessary to stay up later to make sure you’ve truly memorized all you need to, chances are the information you study while exhausted won’t be remembered as well the next morning.
Without a proper night’s sleep, even remembering the information you’ve been studying all week can begin to feel like a challenge. Don’t let all your time and effort go to waste, and make sure you provide your body with the rest it needs to perform to the best of its abilities on the day of your midterm.
Hopefully after reading you’re feeling more prepared than ever to kill it this midterm season. TRMC wishes you the best of luck, and make sure to stay tuned for more tips, tricks and advice in the upcoming weeks!