March 18, 2018, by Anjni

A Guide to Getting Through Midterms (or the UoN Equivalent)

Reading week is now long gone and its termination brought with it two weeks of mid-semester examinations (or mid-terms as they’re so lovingly called) here at NUS, not to mention a bunch of essays and lab reports (fun I know!). Now whilst UoN typically only have two sets of examinations – January and May/June –  over here at NUS the system is a little different and examinations tend to occur every six to seven weeks and, like most examination periods, tend to be SUPER STRESSFUL! So having just got through these mid-semester exams – and having survived! – I thought I’d share with you a few tips and tricks; a guide to getting through midterms (or the UoN equivalent at least). Now whilst exams for UoN students are not til early May, I’m sure there’s still plenty of work to be done before the Easter break – dissertations to plan, essays to write and reports to draw up – and so the following can be applied to some extent.

1) Keep note of midterm dates/course deadlines

Writing down the date of your midterm or upcoming deadlines is vital, and should be done as soon as possible in journals, planners or calendar apps so that you’re aware that work needs to be done by a stipulated deadline. It’s important that you keep all these dates in the same place too; if you choose a calendar app on your phone, record it ALL on your phone – don’t do half and half. Also try not to write things down on scraps of paper or the last few pages of an old forgotten notebook because, chances are, you’ll forget about it. I made that very mistake this semester when I failed to realise I had a midterm until the day before when my lecturer reminded us in class. Why did such a thing happen to me, an otherwise normally-fairly-organised person, do you ask? Because, with other deadlines on my mind and being in a rush to get to my next class, I quickly jotted down the date on a scrap of paper right at the end of class, the day before reading week, after which there would be no class. Thankfully I was able to cram the night before (talk about last minute and a half!) since the exam was multiple choice and only an hour long BUT this isn’t ideal and is something I definitely wouldn’t recommend.

2) Prioritise certain midterms/deadlines before others

Now whilst I didn’t have too many midterms one after another (perhaps because I’m only taking four modules this semester) I know that it’s pretty common for plenty of people to have them in quick succession, and sometimes people can even have two or three on  the same day. This applies with deadlines too, multiple reports and essays may need to be submitted on the same date too and it can be hard to juggle exams and written coursework. If you can, prioritise by date and content difficulty, especially if deadlines are one after another.

3) Set up a plan

As someone who loves to write out lists and plan schedules, it was fairly easy for me to set up plan (aside from that one pesky midterm that I forget about…) to work through. Setting aside a certain amount of hours per subject/topic as you would for any other exam during exam-period is necessary during midterms too and prioritising is important to allow this.
If you’re super- super swamped trying to juggle things, maybe you should have a word with your tutor or other professors about extending deadlines or making up assignments should midterms get in the way of your other studies. Of course this would be the last resort, and normally isn’t received very well in Nottingham since you’ve already had x amounts of days/weeks to complete such an assignment, but out here at least it seems to be a very common occurrence with lecturers readily waving and extending due dates during the peak of midterm season.

4) Sitting your midterms

So the bit that actually gets you the grade. Make sure you show up on time (obviously) and give time for traffic or road works. Over here, parts of the university are being refurbished so many buildings and corridors are bordered up and out of use, so making my way to midterms meant finding a different route to my classrooms and exam halls, and as someone who is still trying to get to terms with the NUS campus, it was a little hard for me, especially since room changes were involved with some of them, but hey I got there in the end! And once you’re in, just sit the paper as normal, as if you were practising at home (and try not to pass out from nervousness!). Finish, go home, rest up and repeat your cycle of revision for your next midterm.

5) Walking out of midterms two weeks later

And now you’re done, you can finally sleep properly! (or at least how you were sleeping before midterms anyway). Go back, put your feet up and rest up – this time for much, much longer! You’re finally free for another six weeks – until the next set of exams roll around – so you might as well indulge in a bit of amusement. Having already gone through this all in semester one of this year, I felt a little more secure and a little more deserving of this indulgence and, in my opinion at least, I was better adapted to greet midterms with a smile this term. Despite being a little behind on my lecture notes (midterms and report deadlines didn’t really allow me to complete these alongside exams, as much as I tried), I’m slowly, very slowly – getting back on top of it all. But midterms are stressful, a bit of a break is deserved upon their completion and slowly getting back into the swing of things is totally, totally normal.

Posted in Anjni