Midterms and Finals

Preparing for Back-to-Back Tests

student taking exam
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Midterms and finals can be tough on your mind and your body—especially if you have two tests scheduled in one day. Unfortunately, test schedules are normally out of your control, so you will end up with back-to-back exams at some point.

Back-to-back tests are stressful for several reasons. First, your normal study habits are interrupted since you can’t devote all of your study efforts to one particular subject as you normally would. Instead, you are forced to split your study time in half.

Another factor that increases stress on double-test days is the physical toll that an extended test time will take on your mind and body. It’s important to prepare ahead of time to reduce the effects of added stress.

Preparing Ahead

  • Sleep and nutrition are important factors in keeping your mind and body alert. Avoid things like junk food, cigarettes, and caffeine in the days prior to the test day. These things take a physical toll on your stamina. You’ll need it!
  • Learn a few breathing and meditation exercises in the weeks or days leading up to your exams. These are great for relieving stress. Practice the techniques so that you’ll be ready to relax your mind between test times.
  • Exercise your hand! It may sound crazy now, but if your hand starts to cramp up during your first exam from extended writing, you could be in real trouble for your second exam. Practice writing in a note pad in the weeks before your midterms or finals.
  • Bring a snack in your book bag for a quick bite between exams. Nothing too heavy, though. Too much food can make you sleepy.
  • If your tests will take place in an unfamiliar building, scope out your testing rooms ahead of time. You don’t want to be late for either test!
  • Pack all the tools you’ll need the night before. Include extra pencils and pens.

    Between the Tests

    • Ask your teacher if you can leave the classroom as soon as you finish the first test. This will give you more time to prepare for the next exam.
    • After you finish the first test, try to find a quiet place where you can be alone and clear your head for awhile. If you can’t find a place where you can be completely alone, make an effort to tune out other students. They may be talking about tests, and your goal is to block out any stressful thoughts.
    • If you eat something, stick with ice water for your drink. Sodas contain sugar and this can affect your mood and your stress level.
    • Walk outside if it’s cool. Fresh air is rejuvenating.
    • If it’s not cold out or if you can’t go outside to refresh yourself, try splashing some cold water on your face. Better yet, if you have the time and it’s not too weird, try splashing cold water on your feet. This is really refreshing.
    • Chew a refreshing mint gum and drink cold water.
    • Practice your relaxation and meditation techniques.
    • Do some stretches. Roll your head around to stretch and flex your neck and shoulder muscles.
    • Gather all the necessary tools for your second tests so that you enter the room fully prepared. Go to your second test room twenty minutes early, if possible. It is sometimes calming to review your notes in the actual room where your test will take place.