Better Not Pout: Midterms Are Coming to Town

Imagine yourself sitting by the fire on Christmas day, opening presents with your loved ones to the tune of innocent children singing beautiful carols while holding hands on the ice-skating rink.

Perhaps a rainbow appears in the sky. A rather odd phenomenon because the weather has been amazing: sunny yet just chilly enough to make you think global warming doesn’t exist.  Everything in the world is joyful and happy during the festive season.

Now, remember that we have to get through exams first.

I always found it a smidgen on the cruel-and-unusual side to juxtapose such a joyful and heartwarming time of year with a sense of impending doom. We students (are supposed to) have been working hard all semester, and, at least in my opinion, winter break seems like a nice little reward before we have to get through the second semester.

But right before it comes around, midterms show up and kick me in the teeth. It’s like seeing the finish line at the end of a marathon and then having to run another mile and a half to get there. And having to study for it, too.

Although to be fair, I have always found that the idea of exams to be much worse and much more frightening than the exams themselves. It’s like how in horror movies, monsters are always scarier until you get to see them. Then they get reduced to bad CGI or campy costumes and makeup.

Midyear exams tend to be pretty similar. The thought of having to recall every little thing we’ve learned the entire year can be a little daunting, but generally, how you do on the midterm just reflects how you’ve been doing in the class.

If you’ve been doing pretty well in your classes, you’ll probably be do fine on the midterms provided that you pay attention to reviews, don’t have short-term memory loss, and understand which side of the pencil is the one with the lead (or rather the “write” side if you, will).

I’m not saying that the upcoming exams will be easy in the slightest, but, in my experience, teachers  do a pretty good job of designing the exams so that they’re more about recalling ideas that you’ve learned over the semester and less about cramming textbooks in your brain and hoping some facts spill out of your ears onto the page.

Studying for the exams should be aimed at bringing back fond memories of old ideas that you forgot existed but still remember for the most part. What I tend to see with SJS students is studying in a futile attempt to relearn an entire semester’s worth of knowledge in a few hours without a teacher to help. It’s like a mountain climber scaling Everest a second time without an ice pick just to remember what it looks like instead of going through his photos. Except the experience of cramming for an exam feels perhaps a tad less rewarding.

Basically, my biggest piece of advice for midterms is to not freak out. Study, but try not to kill yourself doing it. And on the days of the exams, if you’re doing badly, remember that you’ll still have a few weeks of break before report cards come out.

Elliot Cheung

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