Like most other UCLA students, midterms are one of the roughest parts of the entire academic year. Especially in fall quarter, you’ve just memorized your class schedule, committed to your clubs and overall settled into a routine when exams on exams come to ruin your life. Hot take, in some ways, it’s even worse than finals.
Luckily, in my two years at UCLA, I have learned a few tips and tricks for keeping your cool during midterm season. Here are a few of my favorites that will hopefully help you too!
- 8 Hours of Sleep
Getting enough sleep has always been a big struggle for me as a student. Every day there are a million things and going to bed on time almost feels lazy. But the bottom line is that you cannot study effectively if you are not well rested. Especially at night. You have to ask yourself is working until 3AM really the best use of my time? The answer is probably not as your brain is exhausted from the day already. At UCLA, less sleep is so normalized despite everyone knowing how harmful it is for your work, wellness and life overall. Be different and turn in for the night.
- Romanticize your Study Life
Give yourself a main character moment and take your studying over to Powell or in the sculpture garden. It will help make those eight hours of studying feel a bit more magical or at least help you get out of your dorm to actually be productive. When I study like a character in a book, it helps give my work purpose and makes my life feel a little less boring.
- Physically Write Out Your Notes
The hand-to-mind connection is very real. While I am a big laptop notetaker in class, I would not be able to remember anything without this technique. Last year, I filled 10+ pages of dates and authors for an English final and it actually saved my life. While writing can be tedious, it can be much more efficient than online flashcards or reading. You can also use a variety of fun colored pens to make the work a bit more interesting.
Like the sleep, taking time to work out may seem counterintuitive. Trust me, it’s a game-changer. Moving your body energizes and excites you. It also allows your brain to relax and allows you to release your academic-related anger. And you don’t have to make a 2+ hour trip to the gym. A quick run, walk, stretch, weightlifting session, etc. can go a long way. I even find doing a few jumping jacks throughout a study session helps keep me focused. When I do come back to my work, I find myself more motivated and feeling more in control of my academic life. It’s crazy what can happen when you prioritize your physical activity and make it a part of your daily routine.
- Eat Well
When I’m studying late at night and all I’ve had is coffee or Red Bull then a stomach ache becomes a whole other problem that slows down my studying. For me, midterm season is a time to splurge a bit at the grocery store. Maybe I’ll buy some more produce or fancier frozen meals, whatever is going to help me stay fueled for my exams. A diet of convenience often becomes the go-to during midterm season. With that, I would just say set yourself up for success in advance. Rather than going to the vending machine for a snack, I’ll hopefully already have one on hand that will serve my body better. That being said, part of eating well is being unafraid to treat yourself. All good food will serve you in moderation.
The truth is that none of these tips are groundbreaking information. We, as students, know what we should be doing to take care of ourselves during the midterm season. It is just such an ingrained part of our society to work ourselves half to death for a single letter grade. Maybe the biggest piece of advice, that I am still working on myself, is that a grade is not worth your wellbeing. As the saying goes, you are a person before you are a student. All that to say, you have the skills to survive and thrive during UCLA Midterms. It’s just about breaking out of that cycle.