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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

Midterms can be daunting. After just finishing two on the same day and one the next day, and not completely screwing up, I think my methodology for facing this behemoth of a beast is actually pretty practical and sets a good template for anyone looking to getting their life back in track. So take a deep breath, roll out the tension in your shoulders and unclench your jaw—check out these basic tips that may just set you up for the quarter system midterm life. 

1. Map everything out.

Map out your quizzes, deadlines for projects, midterms and finals. Get a planner of the quarter, or any calendar as long as it is something you can hang up on a surface you will see often. While a digital calendar is important and definitely something you should do, writing out what you have to get done each week academically on a physical calendar makes a huge difference. Extra points if it’s at an area you can see when you wake up/go to bed, cause seeing it often enough will help make a mental schedule, so that you can subconsciously remember when to do stuff. 

2. Set up reminders well before the day before

I’m guilty of pushing work till the last minute, which results in me cramming for a chem test the day before, or finishing up a paper due in a few hours at the cost of losing sleep. Don’t make the mistakes I made! Setting up reminders that keep nagging you a week before your midterm or quiz is useful, just so that you are alerted of your impending fate.


One of the biggest pitfalls of college students is that fact most of us screw up our sleep cycle, and getting 4-5 hours of sleep is seen as a positive accomplishment. I’ve been guilty of this myself, but after one quarter of going to sleep around midnight and waking up around eight to the natural sunlight and a calmer alarm sound, I realized how much more stable I felt mentally. Getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep at night is crucial. Not any less or more, as both result in an unproductive sleep where you’re more tired after. 

4. Control Caffeine intake

Coffee is honestly a gift from the gods, but around those weeks that we have high stress levels, the consumption of coffee spikes up. While coffee might be my poison of choice, controlling your caffeine intake, and only drinking it 5 hours before you would think of going to bed (if you’re a late drinker) will ensure you get the ‘high’ without affecting with your sleep cycle.

5. Try Different Study Spots

Don’t sit in one place all the time. Go out! Sit at a bench next to a park! Find a nice spot in one of the libraries or an empty lecture hall amongst all the study lounges that your college offers. Explore your neighborhood, and you might stumble upon a quaint cafe that has everything you need.

6. Take breaks!

While studying and preparing for your upcoming battle is a necessity, taking breaks is important for your mental state. It can be anything from taking time to keep away your prep materials and getting food and just chilling with a 20 min episode of a show you like. Grab some food with friends if that’s how you prefer to recharge! Do what works best for you without losing too much time.

7. Work Smart, not Hard!

Instead of dedicating hours and hours to study a subject before the midterm, go over your notes after lecture. Consolidate the information by doing homework, using the resources given by the professor, befriending people in your class and working together when you don’t understand something. Ask questions in discussion sections, creating a rapport with the TA’s and Professors. While it might seem like a huge list, don’t do it for the sake of doing it. Weigh out the pros and cons, and try to work in what you can do, and after trying them out, stick with what you think works. If you have managed to consolidate the information, the amount of time it will take when revising/studying will be much less.

Meghna is a writer for the HerCampus UCLA chapter. She is a second year who is double majoring in Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics & Communication Studies. She loves photography, martial arts and is a huge superheroes and science fiction fan. While she isn't writing, she is part of a research lab in Gonda Neuroscience Building and is a part of the UCLA Debate Union amongst other things. Hit her up with a nerdy science joke to start a conversation.
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