A practical guide to surviving midterms


It’s about that time. We’re five weeks through the coldest part of the school year, which, undoubtedly, means nothing but the worst. The professors are having the bi-termly meeting on ways in which they can effectively ruin your life and tank your GPA, which includes the usual instruments of joy: midterms, essays, lab reports, presentations, group projects and so on. Here are some general tips to get though the midterm rush.

Pour Yourself a Cup of Coffee:

Coffee is a stimulant. So when you drink a cup, it goes into your blood stream, into your brain and blocks the neurotransmitter adenosine. Adenosine is a depressant in your nervous system, which multiplies itself every hour you’re awake, encouraging your body to feel tired and sleepy. Can’t study if you’re asleep… A cup of Joe blocks adenosine, increases the level of other stimulants in your body, and makes you more alert and awake; possibly increasing other functions such as memory, mood, reaction speed, vigilance, general everyday coolness and so on. So go ahead, kick start your day with some liquid brain juice, strap on your jet-pack, and fly.

Use a Planner:

A planner is a great way to organize your time and deadlines and prioritize which work needs to get done first. It’s a sure-fire way to neatly put all your problems into a tangible written form so they can stare you in the eye with their garbled little handwritten voice and remind you that your social life is damned.

Try to Get Some Sleep:

Sleep is going to be your best friend. It helps boost memory, mental functions and mood. It’s the counter part to coffee, with lots of the same cool stuff. Your body naturally repairs while at rest, both mentally and physically. A good night’s sleep, or a good week’s worth of sleep, will do nothing but make you a better and more efficient student, and probably less of a jerk too, which is always good. Sleep also helps reduce stress. Think about all the insane amounts of work you have to get done this week. You have how many papers to write? Have you even come up with a thesis or good supporting evidence for that one? I thought you had a test to study for as well. Weren’t you meeting up with you friends tonight to go over the lab report together? Also, there’s the payroll paperwork you have to submit, and you really oughta get some hoops in so you are ready for intramural basketball. Oh, and don’t forget to stay on top of your other assigned readings as well…. On second thought, maybe you should stay up to do a few things, just a little longer.

Remember Your End Goals:

Setting goals will keep you going; it gives you something to strive for and what not. There’s so much that is riding on these midterms, and think about all there is to be gained come the end of the line. Crippling student debt, a piece of paper on it with somebody’s signature scribbled in nice pen and illegible cursive handwriting, a clammy handshake, a degree that you can undoubtedly market to the rest of the real world and a job that someone will hand you, without question, for your exceptional work as a Gender Studies major. And remember at the beginning of the term, when you swore you’d bring your GPA up as well? Keep at it. College GPA and midterm success is the single most important deciding factor on whether you get your dream job. Probably.

Go to the Cafe:

Sort of like all that stuff about coffee and sleep. Getting some food in your stomach will boost your energy and give your mind the necessary sugar it needs to focus on the tasks at hand. Plus, a nice change of scenery never hurts and will only spark your mind to think in new ways. Pick a seat in the corner, wait for your food, and when it comes you can put in your headphones and have another read through of that paper that your professor bled red ink all over. How long has it been now since your ordered? Twenty minutes? Twenty-five minutes? Number’s still not up yet? Well, at least you still have a couple hours until that paper is due. Your food will be here eventually.

Have Another Cup of Coffee:

Remember all that stuff about adenosine and memory and mood? All good stuff. Pour yourself another mug of liquid brain juice and refocus.


Probably doesn’t have a lot to do with midterms, but really not enough people do this one. Flossing really is the key to good dental health and a happy life.

Check Your Social Media:

This can be a great source of inspiration. Sometimes there’s some nice pieces of journalism shared that can spark your mind towards some clever and creative modes of writing that you might preen some ideas and techniques off of. Your aunt likely shared her opinion on Facebook over the latest news from the White House, which is likely littered with 100 percent factual information, strong supporting evidence and a clear thesis. Also, your friend’s Instagram picture is rather rad; comment on it, get your writing juices flowing. Update your Snapchat streaks to let all your friends know that, even though you haven’t left your dorm room in days, you’re still alive, though barely. Let them know you flossed for the first time in a while and that they should try it as well. Oh look, Buzzfeed posted an article of the top fifteen cutest things puppies do. That can only help your intellectual process. Go ahead. Watch it. Your paper will wait; after all, it won’t write itself, so don’t worry about missing out on that.

At the Cafe:

Continue waiting for you food to be ready. Maybe check your social media again?

Draft an E-mail Your Professor:

Good communication is the key to any success in life. If you’re stressed and anxious about how to be successful, just ask for help from your professors. They are human beings too. They’ll meet with you to go over studying strategies, paper ideas, or possibly to extend or help you manage deadlines. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Delete E-mail to Your Professor:

An embarrassing and silly idea, really. You’re an adult. You can do this on your own!

Contemplate Dropping out of School:

But only contemplate it. Daydream of the other lives you could be living. A gap year traveling the country, going from place to place in a converted camper van. Missionary work in tropical South America. Starting your own billion-dollar business form your garage. A dead end minimum wage job, a life where you stay with your parents into your 30s… Stay in school, friends. You could really use that certificate and that clammy handshake.

Have Another Cup of Coffee:

It can only help, right?

Go to the Library:

It can be a great place to huddle in a solitary corner and have a nervous breakdown, where it’s quiet and your roommate likely won’t confront you about it later.

At the Cafe:

Seriously! You ordered way before that guy, and that guy, and that chick, and that guy. How did they get their food before you? And how the heck does this system even work? 55 then 23 then 04 then 98? That’s just silly. Those numbers aren’t arranged in any logical way whatsoever!

Take a mid-afternoon power nap:

Ha. C’mon now, seriously? After how many cups of Joe you’ve had? Not today.

In all, the most useful tip that any Lawrentian can give to another is this: don’t try so damn hard, and don’t worry so damn much. They are just midterms. A test will not define you, and the teacher will not judge you for having a god-awful thesis. Actually, she probably will, but rest assured she has a dozen other students she’s judging the same, so try not to take everything about it so seriously. Try your best, put on a good attitude in the morning, hold the door open for someone, tell the custodian down the hall thank you for cleaning up after your community toilet, which is a rather crappy job that he or she does every day, but really is a rather monumentally important service. And for the love of god, try to have some fun.