Highlander Diaries: Midterms

[pullquote]Author: Janine Lano, third-year[/pullquote]

October 19, 2016

Dear Diary,

One of the biggest differences I’ve experienced between high school and college is the stress of midterm season. At my high school, midterms weren’t given, but in college, I learned they can either make or break your grade. When they roll around, my life becomes centered around studying for the exam, leaving me no time to catch up with friends or even catch a bite to eat. I knew this wasn’t healthy, so I had to test out a few study methods to ensure that I’d get a good grade and not let my personal health fall down the drain.

Following high school, my normal form of studying was to cram the night before. I found out very quickly that this was not the method I should be using. Not only did my grades suffer, but I was extremely exhausted and didn’t have any motivation to improve my grade. So I needed a change. I took notice of my friend’s study habits. She would study vigorously a week or two before the exam and, come the night before the big test, she would simply take that night off. She would do activities that she enjoyed and read over notes she took while studying beforehand. I decided to give this a try and to my surprise, I found it was the method for me.

This form of study was the best way I dealt with the stress of midterm season. I knew there was no escaping midterms. Therefore I had to find a way to not let them take over my whole college experience. I started working on study notes every night during the week leading up the exam. This way, I didn’t get anxiety about not studying enough and I had more time to attend to extra curricular activities and not neglect the work of my other classes. The night before, I relaxed, and sometimes, I even went out. Once, I went to go watch a movie and another, I attended a Silent DiscGlow dance party hosted by ASPB. The stress I accumulated when cramming the night before was no longer. I’ve stuck to this routine ever since.

From midterm season, I’ve learned that there is a fine line between pushing myself, and overworking myself. I knew stress went hand in hand with midterms, but I refused to let it take over my life. Midterms still bring fear and worry, but as each year passes by, I’ve gotten into the mindset where I just attack it head on. I’ve made sure that I take the test, and not let the test take me.

Sincerely,

Janine Lano

 

[pullquote]Author: Erika Rico, second-year[/pullquote]

November 14, 2015

Dear Diary,

Well, I’m on the fifth season of “Gilmore Girls” and still haven’t studied for the midterms that are on Monday and Tuesday. So, everything is fine. Totally fine. Just kidding, I’m panicking and crying inside (somewhat true).

I’ve known about these midterms for weeks (syllabi are great, but horrible reminders of what is to come) and yet, I’m coloring a page out of a typical “de-stressing” book, trying to pretend I’m not wasting my time. I should be studying, but the anxiety of failing keeps popping up in my head. I shouldn’t be worried though, right? I can go over my notes and the brilliant Google Doc a good Samaritan started and be fine.

Or, I can sit here and color while enjoying Stars Hollow and ignoring my responsibilities. I can’t. I want a job after four years of being here, or a somewhat stable job. I’ll go study and update in a bit.

Okay, well, that was a somewhat successful 45 minutes. I couldn’t read the Doc without having noise, so I played some music and had a mini karaoke session with Spotify. The music did help me concentrate more, which makes sense since pure silence makes the testing anxiety peak more for me.

Maybe I should think about what makes me comfortable when I study. Unlike others, I love noise because back at home (nearly three hours from Riverside!) my house was filled with it being one of five children.  All through high school I studied while helping my younger brothers with homework and was able to understand the material. Instead of silence, I should try to mimic the comfort of home to make me less stressed about the test.

I should probably Skype my boyfriend and talk about the subject. I realize when I talk about the topics of the midterm, I remember things better. Plus, I need to bother him with random knowledge.

Alright, I feel slightly better about this. I just need to relax and not act like my future is ending because of one midterm. Although they are terrifying, I know I can do this. I made it to college. That’s something that seemed difficult. All I need to do is relax with some tea and music and not pack everything into the night before. Which reminds me, I should go study to lessen my load.

After this episode of course.

Sincerely,

Erika Rico

 

[pullquote]Author: Martha Delgado, second-year[/pullquote]

October 19, 2016

Dear Diary,

It still feels like we are in the first week of school. It also doesn’t help that I have been procrastinating terribly.

The quarter system will always be scary. The first day of class is going over the syllabus, but then a midterm comes up in what feels like a week after. Another midterm also comes up if I have a class that takes two midterms! Next thing I know, I am picking my classes for the next quarter. Then, boom: Finals week. Finally, I am done with classes, and those 10 weeks — and test scores, and participation and all that stuff — will decide if I passed the class.

But the procrastination is not always my fault. For my humanities midterm paper, the class did not get an example until the day before the paper was due. Yeah, talk about stress!

Contrary to popular belief, midterms are not always so scary after a while. Even though I stayed up late to work on my poetry midterm, it was still kind of fun. Of course, this was mostly because the assignment itself was fun — make a visual interpretation of a collection of poems.

But I can’t just keep on taking poetry classes, so when my biology midterm came along, I was terrified. However, going to office hours did make that midterm feel less scary. Yes, I felt silly asking the professor to explain all his clicker questions and the answers, but most of those clicker questions were the same exact ones on the midterm! In addition with a week’s worth of studying, I ended up finishing the midterm in about 30 minutes and passing it. Sadly, going to office hours is not always an option when you have no idea when your professor’s office hours are.

So when my professor told the class that our political science midterm was right around the corner, I was — yet again — terrified because I didn’t understand the readings at all. Hence, all I did was review my notes from lecture. Then, when we got the midterm the next day, guess what? The test was about things we learned and discussed in lecture! My notes were great! Knowing I passed that midterm helped pump up my energy for the next midterm I would be having that day. But all that energy doesn’t last long.

Having two midterms in one day can really drain your energy and throw you off your schedule. Usually, on Fridays I tell myself that I will start on my homework as soon as classes are over — and I somewhat do — but after completing a biology and political science midterm in one morning, I felt like I could do nothing else for the rest of the day. Additionally, I couldn’t bring myself up to return to my weekend homework schedule. And now, I am paying the price by staying up late and trying to catch up on homework. Soon, I’ll get back on my regular schedule, and then finals week will happen . . .

-M

 

[pullquote]Author: Edward Dave, third-year[/pullquote]

October 21, 2016

Dear Diary,

Midterms have always been a perilous time for me. They’re filled with uncertainty and make me harbor intense feelings for the quarter system because it feels like testing occurs too soon after we’ve barely had time to retain the material. Every time midterms begin I try to go in with an optimistically cautious view. Even though they truly are a drag, they are still imperative to our overall grades. Because of this, I treat them as I would any final.

During midterm season, it’s funny to see how everyone reacts. I personally am usually casual about it because I like my exterior to always show some sort of positivity and ease. Inside however, is always a different story. Inside I’m literally berating myself every hour to allot an efficient amount of time throughout the day to study. The temptation to procrastinate seems even more pressing during midterms week because everything seems so overwhelming. Usually my coping mechanism to deal with midterm season is to set up a reward system that includes incentives for me to study. For example, after reading a large amount I’ll treat myself to a snack or a music break. These little incentives work for me because they give me a mental boost to work through the mundane readings I’m tasked with. If I didn’t set this system up I’d literally binge Netflix all day or sleep until I became a corpse. There’s literally no in-between. That’s why I always try to use incentives when dealing with studying.

I also think it’s helpful, at least in my case, to get tons of sleep. I see so many of my peers pull all-nighters and exert themselves. This is definitely not something I can do because my body doesn’t operate that way. I think it’s a disservice to one’s body and mental health to force yourself to stay up and cram. I find that I retain more knowledge and remember the intricate details of things when I’m well-rested and have had a decent six hours of sleep. It really does make all the difference. Plus, when I get adequate sleep, I don’t find myself dozing off in the midst of a test because my mind has received sufficient rest. Although it varies for each person, sleep is fundamentally the healthier way to go and it’s the option I employ when going into midterms or any test.

Half the battle of midterms is not knowing what the structure is going to be like, especially when it’s the first one of the quarter. To remedy this I typically try asking TAs and professors the structure of the test to get a tentative template of what to expect. This definitely makes sure I don’t go into any tests blindsided.

Even though midterm season is stressful, I like to take each day as it comes. I don’t like to overwhelm myself by thinking holistically about all my midterms at once because that’s an instant recipe for disaster. The biggest advice I’m always adamant about giving myself is that it’s okay to NOT feel completely overwhelmed because that allows me to tackle material clearly and retain more information. Midterms are stressful, but they don’t always have to signal the end of the world.

Sincerely,

Edward Dave

 

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