University students face the same stresses at certain points in the semester – the stress of performing well on a final exam or a midterm. When the time comes to prepare by studying, it can feel very overwhelming; there is so much material to learn, often in a short amount of time. Sometimes students must write multiple exams in one day, or several consecutive days in a row. For many students, studying must also be balanced with a part time job or volunteer commitment, which leads to even more stress. What are some ways students can cope with the unpleasant feelings that accompany midterms and finals? Here are some tips that I’ve heard from people in my life, as well as things I’ve realized during my years at university:
- Know your limits. If you’ve been studying for 20 minutes, your eyelids are drooping, and you have the sinking feeling that you’re not actually absorbing any material, it may be time to take a nap or even a 10 minute study break. A brief change in activity may help you refocus.
- Take it a day at a time. Focus on what studying and tasks you will accomplish day by day, and break up study times into manageable chunks.
- Prioritize. Know which exams you should be studying for the most and whether other tasks (ie. laundry, groceries) can be put off for a later time. Don’t postpone important appointments or deadlines, such as paying bills.
- Try to keep the exam in perspective. Remind yourself that this is one test, for one course, in one semester.
- Give yourself something to look forward to. Did you accomplish the study goals you set for yourself today? Reward yourself with a Netflix break. Did you just finish your last exam for the semester? Do something fun with friends to celebrate!
- Remember that who you are is not defined by your grades; you are a person with value and worth no matter what
- Figure out what study tactics works for you and experiment. Some people are satisfied with their performance after pulling an all-nighter, but many don’t perform well if they’ve stayed up all night. Be flexible in figuring out what conditions help you to perform your best.
- Try to take a bad grade as a learning experience
- Have supports around you. Many of your friends who are students are dealing with similar pressures at exam time, and they can relate. Talk to the people in your life who care about you. Talking about things out loud can make you feel less alone and make stress seem a little more manageable. If need be, you can always come in for an appointment with Erica who can help you discuss the stresses you’re facing in your academic and personal life during these times.
Hopefully some of these tips will help you, as they’ve certainly helped me manage the draining exam and midterm seasons!
Written by Laura Douglas, University of Guelph Student