Surviving the Emotional Rollercoaster of Midterms
Midterms can take an emotional toll on any student. Midterms are usually worth a big percent of your overall grade and having multiple midterms means that you will have no time to yourself.
Preparing for the Midterm
Preparing for midterms is very effective in lowering how much stress and anxiety you may feel about the upcoming midterm(s). Often, stress and anxiety come from uncertainty. It can be uncertainty about passing the test or uncertainty about the course materials themselves. Feeling like you have a handle on the content being tested is key but when you have multiple midterms you need to pass, getting a handle on all of the subject material can be daunting. Make sure that you plan your schedule to fit your studying needs for every subject. About two or three weeks before your midterms, take a moment to sit down and map out your plan for getting everything done:
- Calendarize Everything
Put all of your midterms’ dates, times, and locations on your calendar. Also, include the chapters and course materials that are being tested in the midterm.
- Make Sure You Have Enough Time
Give yourself at least one week before each midterm to start studying.
- Schedule the specific chapters you will be studying every day of the week.
- If you have multiple midterms, make sure you take that into account when you are studying. Some midterms require more time than others depending on your comfortability with and understanding of the class materials. Factor this into your studying decisions.
- Stick to your plan and eliminate all distractions
Make sure you stick to the plan that you set for yourself. So that you won’t end up having to pull an “all-nighter” to finish studying.
- Be Confident
Lastly, believe in yourself! Even when you may feel uncertain, believe in yourself and your abilities. You have studied so much, so just use your best judgment to do well on the exam.
After the Midterm
Many students feel anxious after the midterm as well. This is not uncommon. Once you take a test, of course, you would want to know how well you did. Don’t fret about this; allow the professor some time to grade the classes’ tests.
When you finish all of your midterms, make sure you take a break to relax. You have worked so hard for the last couple of weeks and you deserve your small break. In many colleges and universities, spring break comes after midterm week. If you can, plan a vacation! Or, do something small with your family and friends and forget about school and tests for a week. This could be a celebratory dinner, trip to the movies, or going out for a drink – I love to drink a strawberry milkshake after midterm week since it’s something that makes me instantly happy. Whatever your stress relief is, now is the time to use it.
When You Receive Your Grades
Receiving your grades can also take an emotional toll upon you. Midterms are typically worth a large part of your grade, so if you fail, it can negatively impact you greatly. Take a break before you look at your grades.
If you passed your test, congratulations! You did amazing and that is great.
If you didn’t pass or didn’t get the grade you wanted, don’t feel bad. Your grades don’t define you nor do they define who you are as a person. Here are some steps to take if you don't get the grade you were hoping for:
- Talk with Your Professor
Go to your professor, preferably during a scheduled office hour appointment, and discuss your grades.
- Understand why you got the grade that you did
Sometimes you may have made a mistake with the scantron or the professor may have graded it wrong. Maybe you didn’t study enough, or you may have testing anxiety.
- Start evaluating your options
If you didn’t study enough or had enough time to study, you may consider dropping the class. Evaluate your schedule and understand how this class fits into it. If you have testing anxiety, consider speaking to your school’s disability unit to understand your options.
Don’t be scared of your midterms, conquer them!