When picturing how my first midterm would go, I wasn't sure what to expect. I had some hopes.. and some dreams, but there is a reality to the progression of studying for midterms. If you're like me, you didn't exactly get the pick of the litter when it comes to which class you were starting with. Some people start with English, or maybe an Econ class. But, I, a business major, had Astrophysics as my very first college midterm. Thus, I present to you the accordingly dramatic recount of the phases of studying for that first big exam.
1. How are we already at Midterms?
This is the part where your professor says, "on the midterm next thursday.." and the entire class freezes. The internal dialogue begins.. "What? We're there already? I still feel like I'm living at summer camp. I'm not ready to fail this class yet." After this, you go sit in your room, look at your only-for-decoration calendar, and say "Oh crap, we really have been here awhile."
2. Sheer Terror
This is the "ok, what? I've never done this before? How do I do this?" It's even scarier than trying to figure out how to shower in the communal bathroom for the first time without getting your pajamas wet. You realize how much material you've covered, how much of your grade the test makes up, or how you have no idea what to expect from your quirky professor who plays songs about space to hype you up for class every day (or at least this was my thought.)
But, suddenly, you feel a wave of confidence hit you in the face. It's like "well, I did well on the first quiz, I always go to class, and I pretty much get this stuff." You start visualizing your perfect study schedule, making perfect printed copies of the study guide, and laying out your super nice new highlighters to get going. You're gonna kill it. Easy A. A 100 actually. You can do this.
4. OK, maybe not that confident.
But, can you? You're 6 questions into the study guide, and you've breezed through the review of the introductory material. You've got all the vocabulary memorized, totally know the formulas, or are amazing at explaining the first chapter's concepts. Then, the question appears. That question that makes you wonder if you've been attending the right class this whole time. On the high of the first few questions, you ignore the questions about he tough one and try to answer the next ones.
5. "I'm gonna fail."
But those are hard too. They feel like they keep getting harder. You start to question whether you really understood anything at all. (This is the part where you need to take a break and refresh yourself.) Here, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. And this is where students split. Some people will give up and say "oh well, I'll just do my best I guess." And others, like you hopefully, stick tight and work through it.
6. "But I'll fail harder if I don't study."
In the midst of the pain, you decide to push through. Even if you understand nothing and have a possibility of failing, you know that possibility only increases if you quit studying all together. So, you trudge on through the notes, the guide, and the textbook chapters you decided not to read on Sunday nights. This part is hard and takes a lot of discipline (and coffee.) But eventually, it starts getting clearer.
7. "Ok, maybe I won't fail."
The initial surge of confidence that burned like the fire of a thousand suns has faded into more of a humble glimmer. However, you've worked past your rough patch. The tough questions are coming into perspective, and some previously blurry concepts are making sense. You're getting more review questions right than wrong. You've pushed through, but there isn't a ton of time left. It's your time to trust in what you know and get some sleep before the test.
8. "But I'm gonna study in my 8AM before the midterm anyway just in case."
The morning of your midterm, though, you found the value of your 8AM. You feel pretty good, but you toss your brain a little refresher by perusing through your notes and study guide answers while the classmates around you are falling asleep. Eventually, you realize there isn't much time left and you might as well let it be what it'll be. That doesn't stop you from quizzing yourself in your head on your walk to the test, though. But there's no shame in a quick google search for quick questions.
9. You ace it, hopefully.
lead image credit: Tumblr