Midterm survival guide

GVL/Nickolas Peters

GVL/Nickolas Peters

Drew Howard

For many, midterm week is synonymous with spontaneous naps in the library, distressed phone calls to parents and late night cramming for 8 a.m. exams. To put it simply, it’s not the best week of the year.

But it doesn’t have to be the worst week either. With that said, take a deep breath, walk away from the books, grab some coffee and settle down to read some helpful midterm survival tips found below.

#1: Avoid Cramming

The least prepared students are the ones who cram last second. Cramming for exams only makes the situation worse by adding on stress, which in turn makes it harder to achieve necessary studying.

“You really want to start early,” said Nick Debernardi, coordinator of career assessment and programming. “A lot of people don’t take time to plan ahead, so sit down and create a strategy before you even begin studying and figure out how to attack this information.”

It’s also important to be very realistic with a strategy and break down important information into sections, Debernardi added.

#2: Take Care of Your Brain

The brain is a student’s most necessary tool when studying for exams, yet it’s one of the most neglected parts of the body when it comes time for midterms. It’s easy to forget that the brain, just like the rest of the body, needs to be nurtured.

“The most important thing for studying is taking care of your brain,” Debernardi said. “Students focus so much on getting the material in their head that they forget to focus on taking care of the brain, the one thing they want to work most effectively. People who take care of themselves first seem to have the most success.”

Taking care of the brain includes an appropriate amount of sleep, a balanced diet and a healthy amount of relaxation.

#3: Exercise and Good Nutrition

“Exercise and healthy eating definitely affect stress levels,” said Sue Sloop, coordinator for mediation services for faculty and staff. “Good nutrition is important too. Eat lots of protein and stay away from excessive sweets and processed food. These are empty calories with little energy.”

Debernardi added that exercise does not have to be strenuous to be effective.

“Exercise is a very big piece as it helps you burn off that extra energy you have from worrying,” Debernardi said. “Taking walks can be helpful even if you’re not exercising. Just walking and getting outside during breaks can help a lot.”

A healthy diet starts by avoiding fatty, saturated meals and instead looking for foods such as berries, almonds, veggies or nuts.

#4: Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is easier said than done, but don’t dismiss it just yet. The solution might be as easy as going www.gvsu.edu/counsel/ and clicking on the self-help tab.

“My first suggestion would be to check out or website,” Debernardi said. “There’s a lot of relaxation strategies and techniques that you can click on to watch or listen. It has a lot of good tips and resources as well.”

It’s also crucial that students avoid studying right before going to sleep.

“The last thing you want to do before you go to bed is study,” Debernardi said. “You want to close the book, maybe take a warm shower and do something relaxing to slow your brain down.”

#5: Seek Help in Times of Stress

Last but not least, look for help from others when the stress starts to become unmanageable. While talking to friends and parents is a good route, don’t be afraid to seek guidance from the Grand Valley State University Counseling Center either.

“It takes a lot of courage to walk through the door,” Debernardi said. “With that said, it can be really helpful to have a space to talk about what’s happening and to figure out if there’s a real problem going on.”

For more information, contact the Counseling Center at 616-331-3266 or at [email protected].