By THOMAS SACCENTE – STAFF WRITER
Midterms at Centre College can be a stressful time for even the best of students. Weeks of reading, studying, and writing all come down to this: a series of thorough, lengthy, and often difficult exams that ultimately play a huge role in determining one’s grade for a given class.
However, as bad as midterms are, they are not unconquerable. There are ways to prepare for them without succumbing to the stress, ways that can hone one’s mind and preserve one’s sanity during this busy time of year.
Managing stress is a crucial part of the midterm process as it shapes how one prepares for exams, and by extension, how well one performs. Having too much stress can seriously compromise one’s study regimen and efficiency, and therefore must be kept to a minimum to ensure the best grade possible.
One of the more popular techniques to reducing stress is keeping all exam materials and due dates organized. Having a strong working knowledge of where all of one’s materials are and when assignments are due is key to preparing for an exam.
By organizing goals and assignments on a regular basis, one can assess what
needs to be done and prioritize which assignments are more-important than others. Senior Sara Loy takes great pride in organizing her life in this way.
“To control the stress, I obsessively write in my planner,” Loy said. “I even have a system—if I cross something out, it means I’ve done that assignment or event. If I squiggle it out, it means I haven’t done that. I try not to have a lot of squiggles and I may have to do it later. And if it’s unmarked, well, that means I’d better do it.”
Another facet of midterm stress relief is the importance of taking breaks during the studying process. Yes, it is important to study as much as possible in order to prepare for whatever questions might be on the midterms, but too much studying without rest can overheat the mind and can make you less-efficient as time goes by. The brain stops absorbing information and you end up wasting time in trying to memorize things that you will not remember when the exam actually happens. Therefore, a key element in preparing for exams is to set aside some time in the day and take one’s mind off of the impending horror. Some people go out running or engage in other physical activities. Others, such as junior Alan Secor, play ping pong in the Campus Center and listen to music.
“I like taking ten minutes out of my studying to let my brain have all of those things I learned sink in. I don’t like constantly looking over my notes, but I like taking a good break and just letting it distract me from the stress,” Secor said.
However, stress relief for the looming midterms is not just limited to the days leading up to the test. No matter how much one may study for an exam, there is always that little bit of apprehension that comes in the minutes before the exam takes place. You cannot let that little bit of anxiety get to your head.
While many students choose to cram for their exams to reinforce what they have already studied, junior Katie Coldiron has her own way of handling the pre-exam angst. She takes to heart the advice that Harvard Business School Professor Amy Cuddy shares in her Ted talk titled, “Your body language shapes who you are.” Although we may not feel as confident as we look on the outside, by “power posing” and presenting ourselves confidently our hormone levels change so that we begin to feel as poised as we seem.
“Someone once taught me an exercise called power-posing, which is when you make yourself look really big by stretching your arms and bending your legs before a test so that you feel like you can take on anything,” Coldiron said. “I can’t quite explain it, but it’s been really helpful for me.”
Stress is an inherent part of midterms at Centre College. However, these difficult times can be handled as long as you take the time to release it. Never keep stress bottled up. Just remember to keep calm, study thoroughly, and have fun every once and while. Even just a little bit of release is enough to power through even the toughest of challenges.