Midterm Mayhem Makes Many Mortified [Ask the Sherpa]

13 Oct
The Sherpa

The Sherpa

A student writes in via carrier pigeon:

Dear Sherpa,

I’m super nervous about my midterms.  I have two exams that count for like half of my grade, plus three papers, and they’re all due in a two week span! Help!!!!


Freaking Out in Gelman

Dear Freaking,

Thank you for the question and for the delicious meal.

Plan ahead for your work. Prepare now what you can. Spend small bursts of time focused on your different assignments, and switch between topics so you don’t lose interest and waste time.

I learned this as a student at Harvard, where I learned to balance my athletic commitments as a member of the track team with my heavy academic workload.

Forgive me for the track metaphor, but exams are a marathon of academia, not a sprint. You’ll be no good come exam time if you pull an all-nighter cramming.  To scale a mountain of enlightenment you must spend weeks training, not simply nine hours of burpees the day before.

Most important: if you’re confused or anxious, ask your professor for help. Bring your notes or an early draft for their input.  Use study groups, and consider tutoring.  In my experience, most tutors will work for as little as three fish per day.

As evidence to the effectiveness of these tips: I used these very same techniques at Harvard to help me design the most popular social networking site in existence.

Plan, pace, and ask for help. Remember that whether Aaron Sorkin acknowledges you or not, you will be rewarded with academic success.


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