Midterms have officially hit Rutgers, and whether you’re bogged down with papers that you haven’t even started yet or cramming for your hardest calculus exam yet, it’s important to make sure you study effectively and efficiently without sacrificing your mental health — even if you might have to sacrifice your social life or your next Netflix binge.
To get you started on your grind, here are some study tips:
Value quiet and comfort
While it might be enticing to study in the library with a group of friends or in the comfort of your residence hall or apartment with the TV on, what’s important first and foremost is striking that balance of what keeps you comfortable, without being distracted.
Ditch studying in bed, but find a comfy chair that won’t have you begging to get moving after 20 minutes of textbook time. TV might be good background noise, and friends can make great study buddies, but if you’re prone to chatting or becoming way too invested in whatever you’re watching, don’t be afraid to ditch the group or your TV and find somewhere quiet. Your grades will thank you.
Good music is a must
Unless you prefer studying in complete silence, a solid study playlist can get you through studying even the hardest material. Don’t be too tempted to sing along to your favorite songs or get energized with Top 40 hits — my favorite study choices are lowkey acoustic tracks that I haven’t memorized enough to be distracted by, scores from my favorite TV shows and movies or good old classical music.
When in doubt, don’t be afraid to Beethoven it out! At the very least, you’ll feel smarter.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Your professors are there for a reason — and it’s to teach you! While it might be intimidating to reach out, talking to your professor or a teaching assistant about the material you’re stuck on will definitely help you in the long run.
An email or a visit to office hours, depending on what they prefer in the syllabus, is always worth a shot, even if you’re a little embarrassed. The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.
Don’t hate me for harping too much on the value of turning off tech, but the TV isn’t the only thing that needs to go. Use your phone for just music and set unimportant notifications to do not disturb. Don’t forget that there are browser extensions you can get to block time-wasting websites, like Twitter and Instagram, so your laptop becomes more of a study sanctuary, and less of a vehicle for your latest social media addiction.
If you can, unplug entirely and hit an actual, physical textbook or some handwritten notes to study. If needed, you can even log out, delete apps or set your phone across the room. I promise your TikTok "for you" page can wait.
Don’t let stress get the best of you
It’s no secret that midterms are a difficult time for everyone. While school is important, it should never be at the expense of your mental health. There’s a difference between pushing yourself to work hard and pushing yourself too hard.
If you feel a wave of anxiety coming on, take a break! A walk outside for some fresh air, a hot cup of tea or breathing exercises like the 4-7-8 breathing method are all great ways to combat anxiety in the immediate, but if study panic is a reoccurring problem, your professors and Rutgers counseling services are there to help.
Studying works differently for everyone. Even if you’re the perfect student, with emails already sent to every professor and your phone chucked in the bin for your next study sesh, the important thing is that you put your best effort forward, and you take care of yourself. After you clear that last midterm, you can take a deep sigh of relief that it’s all over, and you accomplished something hard.
And then, of course, do it all again for finals.