Midterm Madness

Angelique Arintok/Fourth Estate

Helpful tips on how students stay on top during exam season


The days before spring break are always the toughest. Mason’s very own students are looking forward to some relaxation during the break, but before then, facing midterm exams, papers and assignments can be the toughest challenge.

Kevin Perera, an accelerated masters student in data analytics engineering, has to knock out a midterm exam before the break. He says he’s afraid, considering all his classes are challenging in coursework and load—classes like random processes in electrical engineering and computer science.

Perera says he’s more of a visual learner, especially with material that involves math and equations. He says that it helps to see how to solve a problem first with a couple walk-throughs before tackling the solution himself. After seeing that process, Perera is more confident knowing his prior visuals will back him up.

Angelique Arintok/Fourth Estate

But, as he studies for what might seem like hours on end, he says that getting sleep is one of the most important things a student can do.

“If your brain isn’t rested, you won’t be able to perform,” said Perera.

Caroline Larson, a sophomore criminology, law and society major, also considers sleep an important part of preparation. She treats the place she sleeps solely for unwinding and relaxation after all the studying happens.

“It’s hard for brains to shift from one task to another if it’s still in the same environment,” Larson said.  

As Larson and Perera are studying for their midterm exams and completing other assignments, they think a lot about what their brain has to go through in this process.

Larson says she is a visual learner as much as she is an auditory learner. Larson enjoys lectures in which professors give personal anecdotes connecting to the material. She says it’s easier to understand material that relates to real-world examples.

There is also no denying that midterm season is a stressful time of year for sophomore government and international politics major Zachary Petrizzo.

As his papers and exams are rolling in, he also says that he’s thinking ahead, well aware of final exams just two months away.

Angelique Arintok/Fourth Estate

“Set goals this time of year for grades you hope to complete the course with,” Petrizzo said.

It’s all about perspective for Petrizzo; he looks at studying and grades with a bigger picture in mind.

As more of an auditory learner, he says that he makes sure to take notes in class. Later on, he breaks down the notes, re-writes them while speaking aloud for the best retention of class material as possible.

As Petrizzo takes on 19 credits this semester coupled with an internship, he says that he takes his gaps of free time pretty seriously.

“I always try to get ‘ahead’ on the weekends in respect to papers and written work due the following week,” said Petrizzo. Not to mention, he also takes advantage of time in between classes and downtime on the metro.

What can seem like a stressful season of exams and papers can be alleviated with some of these helpful tips from fellow students. Looking ahead, there is a much awaited week-long break. Soon enough, summer will start.