Tips to avoid stress during midterms

Avoid stress: Kick the stress and learn how to successfully handle midterm stress. Students have tried several strategies to combat test anxiety and stress. 

There’s no doubt that college students across the country are facing increased levels of stress as they prepare for the first midterms of the year. Students can either choose to let midterm stress be a downfall or learn to manage it.

Exams aren’t easy, but the first set of midterms add another layer of unrest. Their increase in significance, compared to regular tests, often times feeds students’ hatred for them. Midterms sneak up on students and create a busy, chaotic atmosphere.

Loma Linda University, a school of medicine, examined several causes of test anxiety and found some of the leading causes.

“Being afraid that you won‘t live up to the expectations of important people in your life, believing grades are an estimation of your personal worth, placing too much emphasis on a single test, giving in to guilt feelings or anxiety as a result of inadequate preparation for tests, and believing that you have no control over your performance or grades.” 

While easier said than done, recognizing that a single test does not determine who you are or who you will become is of the utmost importance. Often times, students are their own worst enemies when it comes to heightened anxiety around test time.

Sophia Frick, freshman, agrees that she put more pressure on herself than the tests did.

“Once I actually took the tests, I knew I had stressed about them far more than I needed to,” Frick said. “I should have just trusted my knowledge and studying skills.”

Some easy tips, determined by Annie Murphy Paul, a book author, magazine journalist, consultant and speaker who helps people understand how we learn and how we can do it better, have proved to help ease some of the unwanted apprehension.

Paul advises to unload on paper. From research conducted by Sian Beilock, a cognitive scientist at the University of Chicago, Paul said “expressive writing” before taking a test is one of the best ways to relieve nervousness. Expressive writing is simply writing about personal, emotional things without really focusing on the structure or flow of the writing.

Paul also recommends affirming your values. She suggests choosing something you value about yourself and focusing on that. She further advocates for writing by saying that writing about the things you value and why you value them is the best ways to internalize the words.

Finally, Paul proposes engaging in relaxation exercises. Utilizing the research of Heidi Larson, psychologist, Paul is able to suggest that focusing on breathing and relaxing one’s muscles has had significant impacts on reduced test anxiety.

Sarah Reineke, freshman, imparts some good studying habits.

“My biggest studying tip is getting lots of rest and spacing out study time. Cramming has never proven to be effective for me,” Reineke said. 

Just remember, all students are enduring the same situations and facing the same emotions at the moment. It’s all about how you cope with the anxiety and stress. Midterms, no matter how much it may feel like it, are not the end of the world.