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The 10 Stages of Studying for Midterms

It’s October: the wonderful month when the leaves begin to turn from green to beautiful reds and yellows, the weather gets just cold enough to break out your favorite sweaters and boots, and, of course, the dreaded season of midterms begins. Midterms have a habit of sneaking up on students. One day you’re enjoying all the darties and pool parties and the next you realize you have an exam on all of the material you’ve been learning for the last couple months. After studying for midterms last year, I’ve learned that there are definitely some stages everyone goes through in preparation and studying. But, on the bright side — once they’re over, they’re over.


1. Bliss:


When you start each class and read the syllabus, the midterm exam is just a date that seems like it’s in the very distant future. You go through the first several weeks of class taking decent notes and paying attention, but not really putting in any extra studying.  At this point, all you think is “Midterm? What Midterm?

2. Denial: 

At this point, you’ve checked your planner and noticed that your midterm is slowly getting closer and about to become something you actually need to start worrying about. You cannot believe that it’s already time for a midterm – didn’t the semester just begin? Have you even learned enough yet to be tested on? However, it’s just far enough away that you don’t think you really have to start working on it just yet. Or at least that’s what you tell yourself. You think: “Maybe I should at least look at the syllabus and see what material the exam is going to cover? Nah I’ve still got time.” 

3. Anger:

Now that you’ve realized you need to start studying, you begin to look over your notes. All you can think about is how much information your professor expects you to memorize and synthesize. Who do they think you are, Superman? It’s going to take you hours to simply interpret your own handwriting and organize the terms you will need to know. Time to play the blame game. You think: “How is this even fair?  Don’t they realize we have exams in other classes to worry about, too?”  

4. Panic:

The anger slowly subsides only to be replaced by absolute terror. You are looking over the terms in your notes and realize that you know absolutely nothing. You begin to regret all the online shopping, Facebook stalking, and daydreaming you would do in class instead of paying complete attention and taking very thorough notes. You think: “It made so much sense in class, I didn’t think that I needed to write it all down….”


5. Bargaining:

In life we all have to make tough decisions. During this stage, these decisions relate to bargaining off your time and studying. You choose to just grab a sub from the convenience store to eat while you study at Club Libs instead of walking over to Slice and Pint for dinner with your friends. This way, the time you’ve saved on dinner can be spent on more studying or sleep…but, let’s be real – most likely sleep. 


6. Remorse:

Even though by now your time is split by studying, eating, and sleeping (in that order precisely), you begin to look back on the last several weeks and how you spent your time. You think of all the hours you spent binge watching every season of Law and Order: SVU or hitting up MJQ and Mags, and suddenly wish you had spent at least one of those hours studying for this exam.You think: “But I HAD to go out to MJQ — otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to post an Instagram the next day with the caption MJQuestionable.” 

7. Depression: 

It’s 2:30 am, you’ve been in the library since before dinner and it doesn’t feel like you know any more than you did when you started studying. The coming midterms begin to loom over, you realize that the end of the world is nearing. You think: “What’s the point of studying? There’s no way I’m retaining any more information. I might as well drop out of school at this rate.”

8. Acceptance:

The day has finally arrived: exam time. You wake up and just accept that the test is happening and there is nothing that you can do about it. You walk into your class with your blue book and take the exam. You think: “Well, I  hope no one else studied and there’ll be a curve.” 

9. Relief:

You finish your concluding sentence for the essay question on the exam, give your exam to the professor, and walk out of the classroom. You can’t believe it – the sun is still shining, the birds are still chirping, the world hasn’t ended because of your midterm. As you walk back to your dorm room, there’s almost a skip to your step. The truth is, all can think about is how you are going to pass out the minute you get to your bed.

10. Celebration:

You wake up from your post-midterm sleep feeling rejuvenated. You’ve finished all of your exams and can finally go out again and return to your blissful college life. Now during class you spend the whole time on Pinterest searching for original and fun Halloween costumes. You think: “Glad that week is over…. Now I can finally online shop in class again!”  

And so the cycle of emotions begins again….. 



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