Last semester, I wrote a blog post entitled “The Five Stages of Preparing for a Midterm”, where I outlined my process for studying in the days leading up to a singular midterm. I left a little disclaimer at the end that said multiple midterms are an issue for another day.
Today is that day.
Optimism when the semester started.
More accurately, October 7 was that day. I had a Linear Algebra midterm at 9:30 in the morning followed by a Molecules and Cells midterm at 10:50. Let me tell you – the week leading up to that day was probably one of my most stressful at Hopkins so far. I managed to pull through the day though, and now’s the part where I get to sit in my post-midterms bliss and tell you all about it.
Stage 0: The Beginning of the Semester
While this stage doesn’t occur during the week before the midterms, it is important because it’s during the week following syllabus week. Picture this: you’re planning out your exam schedule, and as you note down dates, you look at your calendar and realize that on October 7, you have two back-to-back midterms.
What do you do?
Sit down and wallow for a bit? Cry profusely? Try and accept the fact that this is a reality? Move on? Dread the day until it arrives?
Answer: all of the above
Optimism quickly rushing away.
Stage 1: Friday, September 30th
Here we are: the Friday before. Seven days until October 7. These midterms are close enough to be a pressing concern. Professors are announcing them during lecture and informing you of material that will be tested. The reality that you’d been hiding away has finally peeked back around. It’s the weekend, but we both know you’re not going to be doing anything but working. Looks like it’s time to start sleeping in the library.
Maggie Smith always knows.
Stage 2: Sunday, October 2nd
The weekend is over and Friday is only five days away. Friday and Saturday were hardly spent doing anything relaxing; instead, they were spent in Brody frantically switching between your two courses’ material, trying to ingest as much information as possible. Forget trying to sleep tonight.
Stage 3: Wednesday, October 5th
The middle of the week. Everyone around you is preparing for their first round of midterms too, but only a select few are in the same boat as you. You envy everyone who has the luxury of preparing for one midterm at a time. Your friends sympathize, but they don’t really understand your struggle. Coffee? You’ve already had too much, but one more cup can’t hurt, right? Keep going, keep going. Don’t panic.
Look at the clock: how did it get to be 2 AM already?
I’m not the only one seeing this, right?
Stage 4: Thursday, October 6th
You may have had an hour or two of free time the past couple of days. Not today. From morning until night, all that time is going to be spent taking practice tests, reading the textbook, and feeling as if you’ve forgotten the first course’s material as you study for the second. Get to sleep early today. You’ve done all you can, and it’s been an incredibly long day.
Sorry, but this feeling sticks with you until after the midterms.
Stage 5: Friday, October 7th
Wake up an hour early and shut off the 17 backup alarms you’ve set. Wash your face, brush your teeth, throw on your midterm sweatpants, and mentally prep for the next two hours of your life. Two hours. That’s it. That’s all you’ve got to get through. Hopefully you’ve studied enough, and these midterms will be a total breeze.
Like I said, a total breeze.
And finally, once you’re done, sleep – sleep for as long as humanly possible. Then sleep for a few more hours. And take some Advil for that stress-induced cold you’ve inevitably come down with over the course of the week.