How to Survive the Midterms (and Finals)

There’s a better way . . .

Justin Ho ‘21

Oh boy, it’s that time of the school year again.

Midterms, the phenomenon that determines whether your GPA goes down…   or goes down a lot. There’s a high probability that you will have used a substantial amount of your brain cells to make it through the semester.

If you have the desire to keep all your grey matter intact and still be able to retain a healthy amount of sanity, here are some crucial survival tips to minimize the collateral damage to your mind and body.


Get help. MEET with teachers. A big highlight of their job is to help students. Your teachers genuinely care about your success (I hope) and will act upon their best abilities to provide the necessary assistance.

You should not expect your teachers to track you down and provide all the explanations to life’s greatest mysteries. You will have to approach the instructor first and provide all the necessary information about the help you need.

Even if you believe that you’re fully prepared, it doesn’t hurt to make a confirmation. You don’t want to spend your entire break having anxiety of whether the test was too easy or you simply did everything wrong.


Being resourceful and using anything you have at your disposal will maximize your chances of obtaining desirable results.

Remember all those notes taken from those all those obviously very exciting lectures? Go back and summarize all those notes thoroughly. This is basically like 98% of what you learned in class and includes significant information that your instructor may have gotten you to scribble down that you likely won’t easily find anywhere in textbooks or on the Internet.

Speaking of textbooks and the Internet…use those along with your notes as well. They are valuable sources of assistance if your notes aren’t too high quality. As long as you know what is to be on the test (thanks to the given study guides), use your textbook and the Internet to fill any gaps in understanding.

By the way, take a gander towards the Cornell note-taking strategy, which could help you capture key information for future exams. (No bluff.)


Get ready to go Amish and say goodbye to electronic recreation. In order to boost your study-session efficiency to its zenith, take on the duty of removing all possible distractions.

This will require great self-discipline as you will be limiting your technological activities (of course if it’s to study then that’s obviously fine) such as social media, television, video games, and your personal “happy fun time.” Any deadly slacking can provoke heavy procrastination, which can turn your casual 2hr daily study before testing, to a 30 min cram session the morning of the test.

Just for this week, keep even your cherished friends at bay. If they want you to anything with them, just be straightforward. Tell them you are studying.

If these mates are Strake Jesuit students then they might understand you. If not, well then… I’m sorry… just run away or something.

If possible study at a QUIET and CALM location (recommended), or just simply go to whatever environment works best for you. The Alaskan wilderness? The battlefields of Afghanistan?

The environment very much determines how efficiently you can prepare for the tests. You may need the isolation for your mind to absorb the information more carefully or the adrenaline from all the chaos to absorb all of the information at a rapid rate (the latter not recommended).


Stay healthy.

Get a nightly minimum of 5 hours of sleep ( 8-9 hrs recommended). Take it from me.  I’ve been getting like 4 hours of sleep on most school nights for about a year and my grades are suffering.

Lack of sleep at our age tends to cause carelessness and a great amount of memory loss. This also includes a temporary decrease in intellectual performance as well.

So you must calculate the risks. ‘Should I work for a couple more hours or go to sleep?’ All that studying can be rendered useless if you don’t give your brain the rest it needs (remember this).

Sleeping doesn’t have to be the only break you get. Obviously, you should take some walks, do other work, practice for whatever extracurricular you have, or maybe get some entertainment as long as you don’t get carried away.

Once the week of testing arrives, be prepared to consume a good amount of nutrients before attending school (most obviously already know all this). Brains need energy, and a good amount of that energy comes from what you’ve eaten.


I hope this information helps you. Now it’s best to get back to studying (who needs a social life lol). Off you go then, and enjoy the winter break (plus summer) that you will very much deserve.