Tips and tricks for a healthy exam season


Brady Saylor

Ethan Staten, a freshman electrical engineering major, studies on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023, at the William T. Young Library in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Brady Saylor | Staff

Gracie Moore, Reporter

Midterms are one of the most stressful times of the year, especially falling right before the long-awaited spring break. 

Every major has a different level of difficulty when it comes to these exams, and every person handles the stress differently. 

Some people don’t have to study at all even for the most difficult exams. Others start studying weeks in advance. 

But regardless of your major or the midterm, the stress of your own and trying to help your friends through them can be difficult. 

As a journalism major, the majority of my midterms are papers or article assignments. 

This semester I have more physical exams, as I’m taking a few integrated strategic communication and media arts and studies courses.

However, many of my friends are in the College of Engineering or are pre-med. 

Their exams are extremely difficult to say the least. It can be hard to help them through their midterms when mine look so different. 

Because of this, I sometimes feel like my major or my exams aren’t as difficult, or I don’t deserve to complain about being overwhelmed with school work. 

But midterms and courses can be difficult regardless of the major. 

Just because I’m lucky to not have to start studying weeks in advance doesn’t mean that my classes aren’t just as important as anyone else’s, and the same can be said for any major. 

As for exams, I have a few pieces of advice that I’ve gathered from my personal experience and from helping others study. 

It’s important to start studying in advance. I’m as terrible at procrastinating as the next guy, but when I work on assignments and articles before the day they are due, my work is higher quality and I’m a lot less stressed. 

It’s scientifically proven that trying to cram for exams can cause brain fatigue and anxiety. 

Studying for about 20 to 30 minutes a week or so before an exam creates better retention of the material and less overall stress. 

But if you just can’t help yourself, there are a few things you can do to cause less brain fatigue while cramming. 

Taking small breaks is vital for allowing your brain and your body to rest. I use the Pomodoro technique for the best studying sessions. The technique involves studying for 25-minute intervals with a five minute break in between. 

I have ADHD, which makes it really hard to study and manage my time, but this structure works wonders for me. 

During these breaks I try to avoid going on my phone. Instead, I take a lap around wherever I am to move my body or get a bit of fresh air. 

I use these techniques for writing papers and articles as well, with a few added tricks. 

I love listening to movie scores while writing. My favorite composers are Hans Zimmer and Michael Giacchino. 

I also try to find new places to write. The change of scenery inspires different emotions and thoughts. 

Aside from tips and techniques for studying and writing, taking care of yourself during midterms is the most important thing. 

If you aren’t getting quality sleep and enough of it, then your brain and your body won’t be focused. 

Eating full, healthy meals and drinking plenty of water in addition to getting your caffeine fix are simple things that make a huge difference in learning and test-taking. 

But the biggest thing to remember is that your best is enough. 

Of course, grades matter overall, but nothing matters more than your well-being and mental health. If you are putting your best efforts into what you’re doing, whether that be school or anything else, it’s enough. 

Don’t allow a poor grade or a difficult course to take a toll on your mental health and your overall happiness. 

And avoid comparing your midterms and classes to your friends, because every major is different, and every person handles school and stress differently. 

Your best is enough and you are always allowed to find difficulties in school, regardless of your major or what anyone else says.