The Importance of Study Breaks!

Once Thanksgiving comes and goes, the semester is practically over. And while that  signals the light at the end of the tunnel, a.k.a. Winter Break, it also means you’re hurtling straight into a vat of finals. Final papers, final projects and final exams are all around the corner, meaning you are probably spending more than your fair share of time with your nose stuck in a textbook or computer. To make sure you don’t go crazy, make sure to take a 10-15 minute study break every 2-3 hours you spend studying. You don’t have to do anything specific, just get up, take a walk around, watch a YouTube video, get a coffee, jump rope, call your parents to let them know you’re alive, etc. Giving yourself a few minutes to take a breath and recollect your thoughts can keep you from burning out. So study hard and don’t forget to take breaks!

Midterm Mania: 5 Tips to Surviving the Week

With the changing of the seasons from winter to spring, so comes the changing of students’ attitudes towards school. Now that Spring Break is on the horizon and temperatures outside are rising, students find themselves being lured outdoors, placing school on the backburner. But now is not the time to fall behind in your classes! If anything, now is the time you should be getting a head start on preparing for those midterms that will inevitably stand between you and your long awaited break.

In order to remain carefree before your Spring Break, check out these tips that we have gathered on ways to tackle those dreaded midterms head on.

1. Start preparing now. You’ve heard it a million times, but it’s truly never too early to start studying. Rather than staying up late the night before your exam, you’ll find it much more effective to start dedicating a little bit of time each night to reviewing class material. If you cram the night before you won’t retain any information in your long term memory, and you’ll also find yourself exhausted the morning of the exam. Getting started is always the hardest part, so get it over with!

2. Utilize outside resources. Teachers have office hours for a reason – they want to help you as much as possible. That being said, if there is any information that you didn’t grasp in class, or if you have questions in general about your upcoming exam, utilize this time to go pick your Professor’s brain. Trust me, Professors like having students come to their office hours, it shows them how much you care about succeeding in their class – and knowing how much you care could work in your favor when they’re calculating participation points at the end of the semester! Additionally, reach out to friends who have (successfully) taken the class you are in, and see if they have any additional advice as to how to ace your upcoming midterm.

3. Make a schedule. Midterms are similar to finals in that you may have an exam in every class, but don’t let that freak you out. By making a schedule and sticking to it, you can make studying for multiple classes manageable. This will also allow you to work in time to plan and pack for Spring Break, so that you’re not frantically throwing your belongings together right before you head to the beach!

4. Take advantage of on-campus study breakers. Taking a break from studying is necessary when trying to retain half a semester’s worth of information. That being said, check out what events the organizations at your college or university are putting on to help students relax during these stressful times. I know at my school we have an evening in which the professors serve students breakfast for dinner at our dining hall. If none of these events appeal to you, take an afternoon walk around campus or hit the gym or an hour to relieve some tension.

5. Reward yourself. I’m not saying you should go on a shopping spree or max out your credit card, but it is important to build in small incentives throughout the week. I find studying much easier if I have something tangible I am working towards (other than good grades). It could be as simple as a smoothie after a study session, or renting a new movie after a tough test (may I recommend “Perks of Being a Wallflower”). Just make sure you’re actually completing the task before you get the reward.

It can be incredibly difficult to focus on midterms with Spring Break right around the corner, but it is possible. Just think- you have already made it half way through the semester, what’s one more week? If you’ve finished all your midterms and you’re planning to take a trip, check out this post so you know what to pack.

How do you balance Spring Break anticipation and remaining motivated to study for midterms? All suggestions are welcomed!

Brain Foods to Get You Through Midterms

Midterms are approaching and that means it’s time to eat some brain food! The best thing you can do for yourself when you have a test is to stay hydrated. If your teacher allows water in the classroom bring a bottle to sip on when you need a moment to clear your head. If water is too boring for you, add flavor with a crystal light flavor packet; they make multiple flavors and only have 10 calories. If water is not allowed, try to drink as much as you can before a test; just make sure your professor will allow you take a bathroom break if you need one.

Another thing you can do to concentrate is to chew gum. Chewing gum stimulates the brain while maintaining a singular focus.  According to Livestrong.com, “Balanced nutrition plays a part in testing well. The Food Research and Action Center discovered that students who eat a complete instead of partial breakfast work more quickly with fewer math and number errors than those who don’t. Healthy eating also contributes to better performance on vocabulary and visual skills tests.”

The night before your midterm, eat a well-balanced dinner. A brainy dinner needs to include multiple food groups. I normally prepare a meal from: Grains (pasta, corn, bread); Protein (chicken, fish, nuts); Vegetables (carrots, peas, baked potato). Choose foods that you like and that are also healthy for you. If you’re up late cramming and get hungry, try eating a yogurt or some fruit. Lighter foods late at night will give you a boost without sticking to your stomach. If you want, reward yourself after you ace your exam with your favorite dessert!

The day of your midterm, eat a big breakfast. Eating breakfast in the morning helps get your brain and metabolism going. A good healthy breakfast could be a bagel with peanut butter, eggs, or cereal. Adding dried fruits to your cereal is an easy way to balance out your big meal. Make sure to include both carbs and protein. Aim to eat a breakfast around 300 calories; anything larger might upset your stomach and do more harm than good. Along with breakfast, try a cup of coffee. The extra caffeine will give you a morning boost; especially if it’s right before a test. Controlling your caffeine intake is key, as it can be a depressant as well as as stimulant, so stick to orange juice if your exams are later in the day.

Studying for a test will only get you so far. If you aren’t in the right physical or mental state during your Midterms, you’ll do worse than you probably should have. So get some sleep, don’t stay out the night before drinking and eat some brain food before your big exams!

-Speedy G.

I’m reading Psychology: Modules for Active Learning