How to Manage Midterms, As Told by Conn Students

Yes, it is that time again: midterm season. Or even worse if you’re doing a module, it is actually round one of finals. But have no fear, Conn’s upperclassmen are here! And we are going to offer some of our best tips to managing exams without too much stress.

  1. 1. Make a to-do list.

    I am a big fan of making to-do lists, whether we are in Midterm or Finals season or not. But I think these lists come in clutch more so when work begins to pile up. Every Sunday morning, I take 15 to 30 minutes to write out my weekly schedule in my agenda and mark when I will work on certain assignments; this way I have a sense of which days that week will be busy. At the start of each day, I write out all of the tasks I want to complete on a digital sticky note on my laptop, while consulting the to-do list I already made in my agenda on Sunday. This may seem counterintuitive (why have two lists??), but I find that the one in my agenda is more general, while the to-do list in the digital sticky note lists my tasks in the order which I intend to complete them––it is also easier to add more tasks, if necessary, as the day continues. There is also such satisfaction in deleting or checking off a task when you have completed it! I highly recommend using to-do lists to manage your work this midterm and finals season.

    -Elizabeth Berry ‘21

  2. 2. Find out when you are most productive and work then.

    As a science major, I don't really have midterms often. When I did, they didn't really stress me out because it was just a paper or some lines to memorize. What we do have in science classes are exams. Whether they fall in the period of Midterms or Finals, it can get stressful, especially if I have a lab report also due. What I do to make sure I do well is write out what the assignments are and what I have to do for them. For example, take my finals during my fall sophomore year (very stressful). I had a chem, calculus, and genetics exam. On top of that, I had a genetics lab report and a 5-page Italian paper due by the end of the finals period. To be honest, it looked almost impossible, but I got it done. The key is to know when you work well. I personally shut down after 7pm. My brain gives up on me, and I don’t push it because I know my best work won’t come if I force it. So what I did was sleep at 7pm and wake up at 3 am (still getting my 8 hours) and then studied until I had to take an exam and after the exam I would work on my lab report or Italian essay until my brain shut down again. This way I was still getting sleep (which we need) and still getting work done. Maybe you work better at night. Base your studying or essay writing around that as best you can even if you have classes. It works for me every time.

    - Elyce Afrifa ‘22

  3. 3. Take breaks when you feel overwhelmed.

    I know that taking a break when you know you have an insane amount of work to do seems like the last thing you should be doing, but I promise it will help. Now, by break, I am not saying you have to take a whole day or weekend off from work. It’s probably to save that kind of break until after your midterms or finals are over, but I am suggesting that you take a short break, usually between 15 minutes and an hour, while you are doing work. When you are under serious stress, it is easy to burn out quickly and feel unmotivated to continue working. So, defeat the burn-out, take a quick, relaxing break (relaxing being the key word), like watching a 20-minute show, that allows you to not think too hard (or at all) but still is short enough that you feel like you haven’t lost too much time. The key to these kinds of breaks is to make sure you do something that leaves you feeling refreshed and revitalized. For some more tips on what to do during these breaks, check out this article, “5 Refreshing Ways to Combat Midterm Stress.”

    - Elizabeth Vinson, ‘21

Be sure to try one (or all) of these tips as you begin to study for exams and write your papers! Just remember, the stress will be over before you know it and you got this! 

Good luck!