Midterm Madness: How To Deal With Exam Season Stress
By Jessica Gearey
Picture this: it’s the night before your first exam and you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to get all this information in your head by tomorrow morning. You know you shouldn’t have waited until the last minute to cram all your notes, but you’ve just been so busy. We’ve all been there, and can agree that exam periods are demanding, especially if it’s your first time around.
“It was stressful and nerve-wracking,” says Braydie Craig, CRLT student. For first-year students this was their first time facing the wrath of midterms. Fellow student, Jaden Bougie Hall, explains that his experience was not so great, “honestly, my experience was negative. I didn’t prepare myself at all. A lot of my stress came from not knowing if the exam I was taking was a midterm or not, because the teachers never really announced them.”
This type of stress is common for most first-year students, because of the sudden transition from high school to college. Geoff Kloos, staff member at the first year students’ office notes that there isn’t really a specific way to be ready for that kind of change. “It’s a tough transition to prepare for,” he says, “You go from high school, where all the decisions are made for you, and then you come to Dawson and the transition is immediate.” Kloos also mentions that once students enter Dawson, they are expected to be young adults and are suddenly responsible for how they manage their time.
Some advice that Kloos gives is to seek help when you start to feel too overwhelmed. “A lot of people tend to not share what they’re stressed about, and then kind of explode a bit,” he remarks. Most students experience this type of breakdown, especially during exam season. In many instances, people seem to take actions that they will regret later on. Kloos notes that although the feeling of change might be relieving, that’s not how you will necessarily feel afterwards. In other words, don’t cut your own bangs instead of studying.
“They are free services. They are confidential services. They are here for the students.”
Emilie Perrier, on the other hand, says that even though she was stressed out by the unexpected transition, her experience as a student was overall beneficial: “midterms let you know how you’re doing through the semester so far. I think that could be something positive to help you through the next half.” However, when it comes to contacting educational or advising services here at Dawson, Perrier says she isn’t that familiar with them.
Dawson’s educational and advising services are provided all year long and are busier than ever during exams. Kloos advocates that the first year students’ office is the place to get help setting up those services. “We all tend to procrastinate in life, and as a student, that’s kind of your worst enemy. It would be ideal to set yourself up with a tutor, counsellor, or advisor at the beginning of the semester,” Kloos says,“They are free services. They are confidential services. They are here for the students.” Kloos emphasizes that seeking the help you need is recommended at any part of the semester, not exclusively exam season.
Students also find it hard to stay motivated. “What stresses me out is that some of my assignments are worth so much; you fail one, and it’s over,” Craig says. Although a fail may bring you down, Kloos says that there’s no reason to be hard on yourself because of it. “Sometimes it’s just a perspective change,” he says, “I would say though it’s discouraging to get a bad grade, if you step back and look at it, you can’t lose by going to your teacher and asking for advice or guidance.”
Now with finals coming up, a second wave of stress and anxiety is bound to roll through. With students being able to reflect on their midterm results, they can make some changes. Most students wish to handle their final exams by being organized and prepared. “I want to be more aware of when exams are coming because teachers don’t always prepare you for them,” Perrier says. Bougie Hull now knows he can’t slack off anymore: “this was definitely a wake-up call for me,” he notes.
School in general can be a stressful experience for all students. With having all the other anxieties of life on your shoulders and a demanding school schedule, Kloos says that it’s okay to explode once in a while. “You’ve got nothing to lose. If you don’t go and try, you can’t win. It’s worth the effort. Always,” Kloos affirms.