The curse of the midterm
Ah, October. Growing up, it’s the time of year when weather transforms from unbearably hot to unseasonably warm, Starbucks rolls out its salted-caramel-pumpkin-spice goodies, and plump orange pumpkins make their Cinderella debut at the local grocery stores.
For most people, October is a magical time of year. It’s all apple bobbing and pumpkin carving, cooling down and dressing up.
But when it comes to college students, October is more than sweet treats and Halloween decorations. It’s heaps of reading assignments, essays and projects that seemed years away from the confines of September.
And then of course, there are midterms — far and away, the sneakiest part of October.
It doesn’t matter how many pre-midterm talks your professor gives on the format or the content or anything in between. It doesn’t matter if you’ve taken 900 midterms in your life.
They always strike like a particularly violent witch’s curse. The next thing you know, you can’t take your eyes off your books and notes and you have a insatiable thirst for Red Bull.
There’s a part of you that yearns for Haunted Houses and scary movies, but you can’t seem to find the time.
Below are some tips to help break the midterm curse and enjoy the spookiest month of the year.
Organize study materials by class. The more classes you take, the more difficult studying can be. Subjects tend to get muddled together, but you can avoid mental confusion by physically separating the materials for each class into designated folders.
Dedicate a day to each course. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until the day before exams to cram everything you’ve learned back into your head. Give each class its own day and all of the material will stand a better chance of sticking.
Take breaks. Whether your brain is soaking up information like rays of Vitamin D or leaking like an over-stuffed sponge, giving yourself a little time to focus on something less daunting than biology or Latin is important. You deserve a reward for your dedication, whether or not you believe it’s paying off.
Chat with your classmates. All too often, study groups become an excuse to gab and grub. Avoid that slippery slope by striking up conversation before and after class and adding your peers on Facebook. Turning to your neighbor and asking, “Hey, was it just me or was X ridiculously confusing?” — whether on campus or online — opens up stimulating conversation that will help you both.
Sing your notes. Pun fully intended. Putting confusing concepts to familiar tunes makes them easier to memorize. I’m fond of “Happy birthday,” but “Monster Mash” is a fun alternative for midterm season.