Study Tricks and Healthy Treats: Midterm Season De-Spooked!
Written by: Nora Galoustian
Edited by: Alexandra Alvarez
Spooky Season is upon us: also known as… Midterm Season— pressure to perform well academically, falling behind in other classes as you try to study for your exams, and balancing your health can be overwhelming for many. However, with the right mindset and study habits, you can de-spook midterm season. The only tricks AMWA is giving you this month is study tricks and healthy treats to keep you thriving. Have a spooktacular midterm season!
- The Mindset for Excellence: It is critical to believe in yourself and your mental abilities to perform well on your exams. While self-deprecating humor is popular amongst college campuses, try to be aware of the things you say (and think) about yourself. They manifest into your mind while studying, consciously or not! Remind yourself why you are studying this subject, and try to find aspects of the course that you genuinely find interesting (if not, fake it ‘till you make it). Be patient with yourself if you find yourself struggling because growing frustration toward the subject will hinder you from better learning the material! If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, take a 10-minute walk to get some fresh air, and take some deep breaths. Recenter yourself and your mind on your goal, and return to your study material with an optimistic attitude. You got this!
- Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help: Premed prerequisites are known to be some of the most challenging subjects offered in college— it is normal to struggle with the material! Do not be afraid to ask for help by going to office hours, utilizing your school’s tutoring services, and creating study groups with peers. When asking questions, try to ask them how they approach the problem or how they have organized the conceptual material in their mind. This will allow you to start thinking like the Professor, who is likely writing your exams! Thinking at a higher-level and incorporating it into your studying ahead of time will allow you to be able to successfully answer questions you may not have seen before on your midterm.
- Form Study Groups: While independent study is important, it is also good to form a study group for courses by setting up days to go over the content together and ask each other questions on what you may/may not understand. Your peers may ask you questions in a way that allows you to approach the conceptual content in a novel way. Explaining subject material to others will allow you to further fortify and strengthen your intellectual grasp of the material. Additionally, your peers can be an asset to your knowledge by answering questions you may have or clarifying content covered in lecture that was a bit confusing for you. Try to study with fellow peers who are not only doing academically well in the course but are also studying hard. This will allow you to exchange study tips with people who are doing well in the course. Don’t know where to find students to form a study group? Go to office hours! Learn from one another!
- Study Techniques and Resources: The more time you spend in college, the more you find which study habits and techniques work best for you. However, here are just some of many study techniques and resources that have been helpful for many pre-medical students taking pre-medical prerequisites:
- Chemistry and Physics Classes: doing as many practice problems as necessary is fundamental to one’s success in the class. Instead of looking at the answer key, take the time to struggle with the material and try to do the problems on your own before looking at the answer. If you still do not understand the content, ask your professor/tutor/classmate how they approach problems like these instead of asking about a specific intermediate step in the problem. Youtube videos by Khan Academy (especially great for lenses in physics) and The Organic Chemistry Tutor (great for learning different types of reactions and when to do which mechanism) can also help clarify content. Creating 1-2 page cheat sheets (even if you cannot take it with you to the exam) is very helpful when reviewing material right before the exam.
- Biology Classes: Many biology courses are term-specific and lecture-oriented. If lectures are recorded and posted online, rewatch the lecture at x1.5 speed and take condensed notes of the main takeaway from the lecture. If the content seems confusing, read the book for better clarification on the content. Youtube videos may again also be helpful. These courses often require a lot of memorization! Thus, making flashcards and drawing out diagrams of important concepts will help solidify the information in your mind (Quizlet and Anki are both great resources for virtual flashcards.) Anki (free and downloadable program) is an amazing flashcard source, with an algorithm built into it to maximize your card learning efficiency. Many medical students use Anki, and there are often pre-made flashcard decks online.
- Non-Stem Classes: Before the midterm, go to office hours and go through the study guide with your Professor/Teacher’s Assistant. This will allow you to fill in critical gaps in your notes from lecture and readings, and allow you to focus on what they think is most important for the exam. Start writing papers ahead of time, and email/show your rough draft to the person grading your paper. They will provide constructive criticism that, if you use to perfect your paper, will result in a significant improvement in your grade for the class. The grading standard for what comprises a sufficient paper/answer on exams is subjective to the person grading it— by seeking their opinion ahead of time, you will be in great shape for the midterm or essay you are turning in!
- Personal Health: It has been proven time and time again that academic performance is hindered when students are sleep deprived, not eating healthy, and/or are sick. Try to stay healthy during the midterm season by getting sufficient sleep and eating healthy, keeping your immune system strong! Do not feel guilty for relaxing or hanging out with friends— you are entitled to recreational activities for both your mental and physical health.
- Healthy Study Snacks/Treats:
- Almond butter, honey, and strawberry/blueberry sandwich.
- Mix some greek yogurt, peanut butter, and honey to make a delicious dip with some apple slices.
- Peanut butter and banana rice cakes.
- Greek yogurt, berries, and granola frozen into the form of a popsicle. Add some honey for a little bit of sweetness! This easy three-ingredient snack is a great way to treat yourself when studying.
Hopefully, these study tips and healthy treats make the midterm season a little less spooky! Be confident in yourself, empower yourself, and take care of yourself. Good luck, and let us know if you have any study tricks and treats that have been helpful for you! Check back soon for our next blog post and if any of you have suggestions for future posts or any topics that you want to see written about, then make sure to email firstname.lastname@example.org!
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” – Marie Curie, Nobel Prize in both Physics (1903) and Chemistry (1911). #AMWAstrong