Stressed Out


Maggie O'Hara

Caroline Kroeger ’17 trying to study for midterms

Maggie O'Hara, Assistant Editor

Ah, Mid-Terms…. That glorious time of year when we have the opportunity to reflect back on all of the wonderful information and concepts that we’ve been presented with since the end of August. What could be more fulfilling than taking inventory of all we’ve learned?  “Poking our eyes out with pencils,” you say? I say, it’s all in your perception and reaction.

It seems that many of us have the same feeling — that the level of stress inflicted on us by school, daily homework, extracurricular activities, work, and a general lack of sleep can sometimes leave us not only emotionally, but physically drained to the point of illness.

In an NYU study completed in August 2015, while we were beginning this year’s academic adventure, researchers reported that “Nearly half (49%) of all students [juniors in New England at private high schools] reported feeling a great deal of stress on a daily basis… A substantial minority, 26 percent of participants, reported symptoms of depression at a clinically significant level.”

The evidence doesn’t lie. It’s bad, people. What can we possibly do to make it through exam week successfully, better yet, in one piece? We need to look for ways to offload some of this stress, so we can do well academically without losing our minds.

I asked students for some feedback on how they keep their stress in check while they prepare for mid-terms.

Caroline Smith ‘19 reported that, while she felt a significant level of stress with regard to exam preparation, she liked to relieve that pressure by pretending that the exams weren’t happening. “I like to watch Game of Thrones, play with my dog… basically anything so that I don’t have to study.”

Vivek Nithipalan ‘17 agreed that this is a particularly difficult week, stress-wise.  “Over the past two days I studied 6 hours and 7 hours respectively, with [his friends].” Balancing extracurriculars and work is also a struggle during exam week. On Saturday and Sunday before exams, Nithipalan went back and forth from studying to work, which left him slightly frazzled.

Nithipalan advises against cramming the way he did this past weekend and admits that it really only works “when you have one or two units to cover.” When asked how this helps his stress level, he admitted that it doesn’t, in fact, help at all in the long run. It could make things even more difficult. After taking his first two exams, AP Biology and Honors Chemistry, he said, “well, I’m just like ‘YOLO.’” Sometimes you just have to admit that you can only do so much.

Freshmen were recently given a flyer entitled “Helpful Study Tips for your Mid-Year Exams,” created by guidance. Here are some of the helpful tips they presented:

  • Start studying early… cramming increases test anxiety.
    • OK – too late for that one… let’s move on
  • Mentally practice going through the testing experience. Close your eyes and see yourself calmly and confidently walking into the test….
    • Wait – you lost me on “close your eyes.”
  • Walk into the test with your head up and your shoulders back.
    • Wait – you still lost me on “close your eyes.”
  • Try these common relaxation techniques:
    • I recommend not relaxing. You might pass out and sleep through your exam. Just make yourself a nice cup of coffee and muscle through it.

Good luck to everyone during this difficult week. Remember – it won’t last forever. Give it your best shot and then let it go. Now, I’m just going to go open my AP Psych book….. zzzzzzzzzz………


Infographic created by Maggie O’Hara