Campus Spotlight, Student Life

The Tribune’s declassified midterm survival guide

As the days get shorter and the leaves change into varying shades of auburn and crimson, fall midterm season has snuck up on us. This time of year can feel like an all-encompassing mass of anxiety for McGill students as they work away at McLennan until the wee hours of the morning. Midterm season’s heavy workload sometimes leads students to neglect personal care in favour of spending a few more hours hitting the books. There are tons of ways, however, to incorporate self-care into your fall midterm routine without sacrificing your GPA. 

Spend time outside

Going out for a walk in nature is one of the best ways to clear your mind and take time for yourself during exam season. Luckily, Montreal is home to many parks and hiking trails that will help you get lost in nature without veering too far from the library. The quintessential Mount Royal is a mere five minutes from McGill’s downtown campus and offers a variety of trails to suit your specific hiking abilities. The stunning backdrop of the city amid the colours of the trees is sure to make you forget about that calculus exam for a few hours. If you are looking to get away from the McGill bubble, try a walk along the Lachine Canal or a stroll through Parc La Fontaine.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is a regulation and meditation technique that has exploded in popularity in recent years—and for good reason. This method involves using breath and meditating techniques like ​​body scan meditation to allow yourself to be fully focused on the present moment instead of stressing about what lies ahead. Particularly during midterm season, mindfulness is a great way to help you remain grounded and calm your nerves. 

Study shorter and smarter

Instead of spending countless hours at your desk and burning yourself out, study in shorter bursts and increase your productivity by attempting to accomplish one task at a time. Break down each big task—studying for a midterm, for example—into a step-by-step process and tackle an individual, small step on its own. You can do this by dividing a midterm syllabus into equal parts, splitting the word count for an essay due, or distributing practice problems of certain chapters, and work through each chunk independently and sequentially. 

By honing in on smaller tasks, you will feel more focused, avoid being overwhelmed by the large amount of assignments on your plate, and have a more concrete idea of the end goal you are working towards. As an added bonus, accomplishing the small tasks will give you the extra motivation you need, as compared to being daunted by larger assignments. If you still feel swamped, try organizing your tasks into a to-do list, for which Notion and Microsoft have great digital options, and perhaps inculcate the Pomodoro Technique into your study plan

Spend time with friends

In the midst of all this midterm season chaos, disconnecting from work and hanging out with the people close to you can be the perfect recharge. Not only will it take some stress away and help relieve some of your mental burden, but studies have found that spending time with friends can be good even for your physical health. Having a trusted circle of friends has been linked to lower risk of heart disease and longer life expectancy. 


So grab your closest friends and head to Randolph Pub for a board game night, go for a bike ride on one of Montreal’s most scenic bike trails, or simply order takeout and watch a movie at home. Any of these activities will do wonders in helping manage your stress levels and will give you a much-needed break from the long hours buried deep in academics.

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