Midterm Survival: Here’s Your Playlist

This is not something you will find on Spotify. Your Midterm survival playlist is more like the old Boy Scouts motto, “Be Prepared,” in which the scout is ready, willing, and able to do what is necessary in any situation that comes along. Your first brush with Midterms demands scout-level preparation – and determination.

Here are eight considerations that will help you do your best.

Love Your Schedule

Your schedule is your best friend. Start with your exam dates and work backwards. How many days do you have left? How many hours are available to you each day? Be realistic. Break your workload down into digestible chunks with tangible goals. We like to use the Pomodoro Technique which starts with a specific goal, then sets a timer for 25-minute intervals. Learn more about the technique in this video.

Plan your study time carefully and make sure to include time for self-care.

Start with Other People

There are few things more infuriating than waiting for other people to get back to you when you’re in a rush. You can control your own schedule, but you can’t control theirs. Give them enough time to get back to you in your timeframe. Start now.


Do you need accommodations for any of your Midterms? Work with your Focus Collegiate College Life Coordinator to make sure they are all in place now. You will find great peace of mind knowing that these are ready to go.

Ask Questions

Your professors want to help you succeed. Ask them questions as you prepare in advance of the Midterm. Here are some questions to consider:

  • How many questions will be on the exam?
  • What types of questions will be on the exam?
  • What material will be covered?
  • Will the questions come primarily from the notes or the text?
  • Will partial credit be awarded for some answers?
  • How much time will we have for the exam?
  • Will there be any extra credit?
  • What materials (books, notes, calculators, and so on) will we be able to use?
  • What outside material (handouts, readings, and so on) will be included on the exams?[1]

Feed Your Brain (and Your Body)

Stay Hydrated and get enough sleep. The human brain depends on proper hydration and sleep for optimal function. Water delivers nutrients to the brain and removes toxins. Good hydration makes this exchange more efficient and ensures better concentration and mental alertness.[2] During sleep, the brain makes new neural connections that help memory retention.

Eat healthy snacks. Healthy food can boost your memory and your productivity. Blueberries, pumpkin seeds, nuts, spinach, kale, avocado, tomato, broccoli, carrots…load up on salads and fresh veggies. They stimulate your brain and make your body feel good.

Don’t forget to keep your body healthy. “Exercise…increases heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It aids the release of hormones which provide an excellent environment for the growth of brain cells. Exercise also promotes brain plasticity by stimulating growth of new connections between cells in many important cortical areas of the brain.”[3] Even five minutes of exercise (a brisk walk, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, etc.) can make a difference and clear your head.

Get Social

And by this, we definitely do not mean social media. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Tinder, and Instagram are your worst enemies right now. Silence your phone. At the very least, give yourself a time limit and stick to it. Your notifications will still be there after your study time.

Enlist a study buddy or join a study group. Your peers are in this, too. They can help you as much as you can help them. Helping others can help motivate you and give you a new perspective.

Learn Something New

It might sound like a crazy time to even think about learning something new but keep your mind open. By staying curious beyond the subject matter of your Midterm, you will learn things about yourself that can positively impact your entire college career and possible your work life after college.


You got this.

Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

[1] https://bit.ly/2mHRzPm

[2] https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/blog/archive/healthy-habits/your-brain-h2o

[3] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-exercise-affects-your-brain/

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