October is midterm time! Here are some handy tips to get you through unscathed

By Raven Nyman

In this stock photo, a group of students study in a university library. (Getty Images)

In this stock photo, a group of students study in a university library. (Getty Images)

Now that we’ve hit the month of October, students: you can give yourselves a pat on the back. You’ve officially made it through a third of the semester! Unfortunately, for most Canadian universities, October is also a month filled with midterms. And by midterms, what I really mean are: midterms, midterm take-home essays, midterm in-class essays, midterm assignments, midterm group projects, and more.

It’s certainly a lot to juggle, and if you factor in a favourite holiday, you could be looking at a rather hectic month. Remember those three Halloween parties you planned to attend this October? Well, if you don’t start preparing for the busy month ahead while you still can, then its safe to kiss your party plans goodbye.

How might students make it through a testy October? Thankfully, I’ve taken a turn or two through the pumpkin patch, and managed to gather some tips and tricks to share along the way.

Stop: study time!

You’ve heard the phrase before: there’s no time like the present. Truly, there’s not! The hardest part about completing our studies is often the mental battle that we create for ourselves that prevents us from actually getting started. It’s not about the difficulty of the task at hand, but rather about our unwillingness to batten down the hatches and challenge the storm. We are the self-proclaimed Netflix generation, and there’s no denying that. Still, work must come before play, especially when that work relates to your education. If your dream career is your priority: that’s where the focus should be. The sooner you begin ticking tasks off your to-do list, the faster your worries will disappear entirely. And after that? You get to enjoy all the best things about October.

Use what you already have!

By the time students are confronted with midterms, they usually find themselves feeling rather overwhelmed. This doesn’t have to be the case. Many seniors and professors will certainly remind you of the importance of midterm exams, and they aren’t wrong. But the intense fear and worry that is often associated with midterm season is something that many students can actually avoid. The solution may be simpler than you think.

By October, we’ve already been in classes for an entire month. That means we are familiar with our course work, our instructors, and the expectations for each of our classes. Further, we will have gathered a collection of notes for each course, taken by hand or typed up in class. Lecture notes should be your number one tool when preparing for midterm essays or exams.

I’ve said it many times, but it’s always worth repeating: review, review, review! Often, we don’t truly retain information we’ve only been introduced to briefly, so it’s important to actively review your coursework as the term progresses, especially when your brain is processing new information each day. Even reviewing your due dates for each course can be a simple yet critical task that students often overlook. Thought you’d never miss a deadline? When faced with your first round of midterms in five to seven courses, you might be surprised at how quickly an overwhelmed mind can forget crucial details.

Don’t get cocky!

As the semester becomes more stressful and deadlines piles up across your desk, it may seem tempting to start sleeping in. Why not get in a few extra hours of shut eye, skip class, then get the day’s work done at home? If these thoughts haven’t gone through your head yet during your university experience, well, you can expect them soon enough. Fighting the temptation to skip class can be a struggle, especially when the winter months creep in and we find ourselves feeling droopy and drained. Nonetheless, now is not the time to start skipping. Truthfully, skipping is never a good idea, and once you start to think it through, it becomes quite clear why. You—or perhaps your parents—are paying good money for each and every class you attend, so what’s the sense in paying for something you won’t benefit from? The smartest choice, although it may not always be the easiest, is to suck it up and go to class. If you’re like me, that might entail a regular uniform of hoodies and sweats, but hey, at least you made it!

Follow these tips and you’ll be sure to make it out of midterm season unscathed.

Study hack: If checking out of social media is a continuous challenge for you, consider setting limits with an app like SelfControl. SelfControl works by blocking distractions such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on your laptop or phone. You can program SelfControl to block these applications for a set time period so that you can focus all your attention on the task at hand, whether that be reading, studying, or completing an essay. This tool can be very useful when you’re struggling to get into a comfortable study session.