Amanda’s Midterm Routine

26 Feb

If you’re reading this, you’re probably procrastinating on studying for your midterms. So here’s a quick overview of the routine that works for me.

Part I: Pre-game brain training: The Day Before Midterms

Hopefully you’ve done some reviewing between then and now, but if you haven’t, you might be heading for the library.

Here is your tool kit:

  • Textbook – focus on chapter summaries, tables and boxes.
  • Notes – not just for reading, but for testing yourself.
  • Handouts – if you got these in class, they’ll probably be handy.
  • Technology – because when is technology not a great idea? From accessing your D2L homepage to desperately texting your classmates, this is essential.
  • Chargers – Juice for your tech for the long haul.
  • Sweater – For climate control.
  • Food – Hunger can destroy your game face.
  • Caffeine – The elixir of life, but don’t overdo it.

With these tools combined, you can accomplish a grade-saving study session!

Timing is Everything

Set a timer for an hour, 45 minutes or even just 30. Don’t mess with Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter or your texts until the timer goes off. This way your tech won’t break your flow, but you also won’t burn your brain out or upset any buddies by ignoring them. During these timed sessions, hit all of the big points first and make a list of the things you don’t know. When the time is up, Hulu to your heart’s content for 10-15 minutes before you dive into the next round.

If it’s math or a language, practice makes preparedness. Go through the motions on a few exercises, pick out problems or questions from chapter summaries and power through a few.

Remember, the more you can make your study session resemble your test session, the more prepared your brain will be. This means practicing retrieving info by using the same cues in studying that will show up on your test. D2L quizzes can be great for this if you’re able to see your past attempts. If you’re not so fortunate, try making a quizlet or some nice old-school flashcards.


You know that feeling when you’ve studied for an hour or more and your head is just swimming with random bits of information? That’s a great time for a nap.

Study sessions followed by catnaps will help your brain file away all the info you’re throwing at it. Make sure you get all of your napping and coffee drinking done before 3pm so you can get a full 8-hour sleep cycle before the big day.

If you’re already sleep-deprived, skip the naps. This may not be a good plan for you because it can be nearly impossible to wake up from a nap and get your brain back in gear when you’re really tired .

All-nighters may seem helpful, but in reality, that coffee-fueled stress session will probably leave you crashing just in time for your exam to begin. Defend your rest like a damsel in distress. Help her Sleepy-Wan Kenobi, you’re her only hope!

Before bed, get all of your stuff together, lay out some clothes, pack your bag, have a lunch ready to go in the fridge, load the coffee pot – anything you can do to avoid last-minute looking for things like shoes, keys and wallets. Then go over your notes a couple of times and quiz yourself to sleep.

Part II: Exam Day

Breakfast of Champions

Drink a glass of water when you wake up and take some big deep breaths to flood your brain with oxygen. Think some positive thoughts about the way you’re going to rock the socks off your exam, and start the coffee pot.

Because you studied with caffeine in your system, your body is going to help your brain remember that information when caffeine hits your system again. Tea will do just as well if you’re not a coffee drinker. You want to have had your caffeine at least 30 minutes before your exam for best results.

Go all-out on breakfast. I’m no nutrition major, so don’t quote me on this, but I go for something with protein and a load of cholesterol. For more info on brain food, you can check out this list of foods or this list of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

The Final Countdown

As far as last-minute studying goes, if you haven’t learned it by this point, it may not stick, so you want to play your strengths and build your confidence on what you do remember.

As you sit down beside your peers who are scrambling through their notes or muttering prayers under their breath, don’t let the anxiety get to you. Take deep breaths, walk around, or visualize your success and remember…



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