Midterms: I’ll Sleep When I Die

In high school I was a pretty huge fan of the ABC Family situational comedy “Greek,” which discussed the trials and tribulations of college “Greek Life.” I couldn’t wait to go to a state college (didn’t happen), join a sorority (didn’t happen), and pull all-nighters cramming for exams. I yearned to be just like the show’s female lead, Casey Cartwright, studying my evenings away in pink track suits, my hair looking elegantly disheveled.Inaccurate depiction of college life.


When I arrived at college, (ironically, mine does not participate in the Greek system whatsoever), these hopes and dreams were scattered to the Bronxian wind. And as the honeymoon phase of my freshman year began to dwindle, I was introduced to the most evil of all evils, straight from the fiery chasm of Mount Doom: the Midterm. It wasn’t what I expected. It wasn’t all coffee breaks and pants that say “Juicy” on the butt. It was hell.

Midterms are not fun or cute. They are a sadistic tradition required by most universities to remind students that real torture exists. They are the reason my roommates and I find ourselves awake at 4am surrounded by papers and empty coffee cups, quivering with nerves and caffeine. I’ll never forget my freshman year when Organic Chemistry had me lying face down on the floor, at my wits end and in a frenzied panic.

In recent years I’ve gotten better at midterms. Maybe they’ve become less scary with age, but I’ve definitely developed a system that I find to be fool-proof:

1. Organize: I’m not a very neat and tidy-type of a gal, but come testing season I go into overhaul. The day before my real studying starts I clean EVERYTHING. The kitchen, the bathroom, laundry; all of it. It makes for a cleaner space and clearer mind. Plus, I can’t procrastinate with cleaning or laundry– it’s all done. Get all of your papers and notes and post-its together and sort them by date. Even if you’re not planning on studying until tomorrow, it makes a big difference to have your notes and books sorted and ready to go when the true work begins.

 2. Avoid the Library: I find that, particularly in the midst of exam season, the library becomes much too tense and crowded for effective study. A lot of people thrive in this kind of environment, and good for them! But for my purposes I find it much easier to settle down in some type of cafe or coffee house. Instead of the halogen lights and silence of the library, most cafes offer soft lighting and quiet, easy listening tunes. Plus, if you’re studying with a group your quiet discussions will more likely be well-received outside the library.


3. Don’t Procrastinate: I find it extremely difficult to focus when my roommates don’t have work to do, often to the point that I might blow off studying to re-watch an episode of The Vampire Diaries. This is possibly the WORST hurdle in the marathon of test-prep. My usual tactic is to simply remove myself from the equation. When I have an exam to prepare for, I visualize the studying as a mountain standing in front of anything else I want to do– unless I climb over it, there’s nowhere else to go. I head straight to my study space and dive into my work. As with many things in life, studying gets a whole lot easier once you start. Take it from the laziest lay-around gal of them all: commit to your work and get it done.

4. Sleep!: If you’ve followed my first three steps there should be no reason not to get plenty of sleep. I personally believe that at some hour of the evening, maybe around 2am, the brain sort of stops holding information. If you feel like you’ve studied hard all day, hit the sack early and rest your mind and body– then wake up early and look at your notes with fresh eyes. This is definitely the hardest piece of advice to follow– all-nighters are so typical of college it just feels right, right? Just remember, getting a good amount of sleep makes all the difference.

And when you’re feeling the need for a coffee break, the Campus Clipper has you covered. Pop into Bourbon Coffee on 14th Street between 5th & 6th Avenues for a boost at 15% off! What would midterms be without caffeine?


Olivia, Fordham University 2012

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