How to avoid the stress of midterms and finals

Sofia Mendes/Staff Writer/

Alexa Astete ’26 had a stressful first year. She struggled with time management and found herself feeling overwhelmed often. She is a secondary education and equity studies major with a minor in math. When assignments start to pile up she just wants to lie down and take a break. 

   If this sounds like you read on. Here is advice on time management, study habits, and test taking.

   Let’s start with four time saving hacks from St. Michael’s peer tutoring coordinator Dina Alsaffar:

   – At the beginning of the week, sit down and plan out what you have going on for the week and make a brain dump for what you have to get done. Then organize it day by day.

   – Don’t multitask when doing your work. According to Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute at Stanford University, multitasking is associated with students doing worse in school.

   You should not keep your phone or other distractions close to you while you work, as you can get easily distracted. 

   – Ask for help. After asking for help, you will feel more capable of doing an assignment. Once you find yourself confident in a task, or an assignment or homework you’re less likely to procrastinate.

     It is important to be prepared for test taking. Here’s what Alsaffar recommends:  

   – Prepare ahead of time. If you study at the last minute, the information goes into your short term memory as opposed to your long term. This makes it harder for you to recall information.

    – Take good notes in class and have them be organized in a way that makes sense. You should not just copy down what the teacher says. Your notes can later work as a study guide.

   Essay writing can cause a lot of stress. Writing coach William Coburn has tips to make it less daunting:

   – Do essays the way you feel the most comfortable. Everyone has their own processes so if it works for you to write the conclusion first, write the conclusion first.

   – Break down the prompt. Whatever you have to write about, figure out what it is. Figure out what you are being asked to answer.

   – Brainstorm. Get some ideas down on the page of what you could possibly write about.

   – Create an outline to organize the information into essay format.

   – Visit the writing center. The writing center has a very welcoming environment and it is just peers helping peers.

   Now, let’s tackle your stress. With so much to manage, it is important to find ways to relax: 

   – Alsaffar’s tips for relaxation are staying hydrated, going for walks, taking some me time (for example watching Netflix or having a snack). She recommends taking time to focus on things outside of school, and finding someone or something that brings you inner peace.

   -Coburn suggests having a cup of tea and reading a good book, going for a walk, and doing deep breathing.

   -Astete simply said do what makes you happy. For example, have a bubble bath, take a nap, take an hour to draw, or crochet.

   Alsaffar is available for drop ins every Monday in the Purposeful Learning office, and Thursdays in the Center for Student Diversity, Empowerment, and Community. Alsaffar said students are welcome even if they are behind on content.