ASK THE DOSCs: Managing Stress During Midterms

Unfortunately at Dartmouth it can feel like once your midterms start, they just never stop until finals are over. As many a Dartmouth student will tell you, the 10-week term (or 9 weeks, in the case of winter) goes by at breakneck speed. So, as one can imagine, knowing how to manage your stress and not burning out are incredibly important. Some DOSCs share their tips on how to manage their stress. However, keep in mind that not all these tips will work for everyone, and it’s important to find out what works best for you.

Jesse says: “Just study a little bit every day ahead of time (like a week or two before), that way if you have questions you can ask the professor in office hours or after class. Then when the exam rolls around, you’ll have everything memorized like the back of your hand, and you’ll also have gotten good sleep from not having pulled an all-nighter. Also, study actively! Teach yourself the material in the mirror or explain it to friends in the class. You’ll quickly learn what you don’t understand well if you can’t explain it, and working with the material creatively and actively like this leads to long-term potentiation. Aka, better memory.”

Caitlin says: “Do something you like every day- watch a tv show, hang out with friends, go out, etc- either as a study break or at the end of the day. Use that activity as motivation to finish your work and be efficient with your time.”

Akwugo says: “Always remember to start studying with a plan. If you go about it haphazardly, you will panic and forget to cover important points. Try and study a few days before the midterm, so if you have any questions, you can approach the professor or your friends before you take the test. Just relax and it will all work out. And finally … Good luck!”

Rachel says: “Exercise is one way I get through stressful periods. My morning runs allow me to clear my head and get rid of any pent up restless energy so that when I sit down to work, I am more focused and productive. I also try to make time to talk with family and friends, even if I don’t think I can take the time away from work. That way, I can use time with friends as a necessary break and something to look forward to. And finally, I think that studying a little bit at a time, over a longer period of time keeps me from getting too overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work that needs to get done.”

Jyotsna says: “Overpreparation. For the few days before the midterm I up my study time and cut all unnecessary meetings and activities. I have a planner and at the beginning of the term I write out when my exams are scheduled for, so that I don’t schedule meetings or events during that time.  If I don’t have enough time to become as comfortable with the material as I would like, I stop looking at new material a few hours before and just look over the notes, so I don’t get too tense.”

Angela says: “I also try to avoid cramming if I can, which for me means keeping up with readings and studying early in the term so I don’t get overwhelmed when I start running into deadlines (this doesn’t always work out, but I try for the first couple of weeks, at least). Keeping a planner and knowing early in the term which weeks are going to be crunch weeks for me is also crucial. And finally, even when I’m in up to my ears in midterms and papers and stuff, I always leave some time out in the day to do something that I like to do, like play video games or read a book.”

Jingna says: “Don’t procrastinate! Try going to the gym as a study break. It really wakes you up and helps get your blood flowing to your brain.”

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