Midterm motivation tips

Hey you can do it, in text superimposed over the photo of a determined baby

Midterm season is upon us! Motivation is the literal drive to continue working on a task. With all the stress and waves of evaluation, how can you prevent the fatigue that comes with studying? How can you possibly stay motivated throughout the whole season? Well, here are some tips for just that.

Stay organized

Nothing is more discouraging than resolving to take on a task and not being able to find a place to begin. Organizing and planning your study time will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by the daunting task of studying all of the previous content of the month, for each of your classes.

There are plenty of ways you can do this, but one simple way is to make a schedule. A schedule lays out everything you need to do and when it needs to be done, giving you a bird's eye view of your plan from day to day or week to week. Breaking down the workload can make it easier to face.

Does a calendar or agenda sound old fashioned? It doesn't need to be. Free productivity apps for scheduling and reminders are everywhere at your disposal.

Set goals

Recognizing the sheer amount of work that needs to be done to prepare for midterms is a real motivation-killer. Taking or reading over notes, making flashcards, memorizing equations and definitions, planning your essay or doing practice problems - and you need to do it over and over for each class! Even once that is organized across a period of time, it can seem like a lot.

Goal setting comes hand in handy with keeping organized. Where organization is the big picture of all the tasks that need to be done, goal setting is about breaking down those tasks into smaller, achievable steps. It’s another case of making things more manageable through simplification.

Another important tip is to set realistic goals. Check out our SMART goal-setting strategy for guidance.

Already unmotivated to try to work on any short-term goals? Write down a bunch of simple tasks and set about completing them. Simple tasks, like making the bed, sorting your email or taking a shower are still important while you study. Slowly building up to tackling the other things you need to do is a great way to improve your feelings toward your workload while accomplishing things that need to be done.

Reward yourself

By rewarding yourself, I don’t mean, “You can’t eat dinner unless you finish half the practice problems.” 

Rewarding yourself is not about holding your happiness and well-being hostage in the name of good marks.

Rewarding yourself is a way to acknowledge your goals and celebrate their completion. It introduces positive emotion to the process of studying, which otherwise can feel like a race that’s too long to finish. While rewarding yourself also comes with the expectation that you’ll be returning to your work, it’s a system that allows you to celebrate even the smallest of achievements and stay positive as you continue building toward success.

Study with friends

While this can be a great strategy to stay motivated to study, be sure that you don’t get too distracted! Studying with friends can keep studying from being boring, again introducing more positive emotion and keeping the ball rolling. Quizzing each other, practicing and explaining concepts are all ways you can work together to study. Studying with someone else can also help you be accountable to the goals you set for yourself.

While this is a great tip for some, if studying in a group makes you more stressed and anxious about what you do or don’t know, or is too distracting, then don’t bother. Some people may prefer studying by themselves in a quiet isolated setting. Whatever works!

Take care of yourself

You know your limits. If you need a break, take it. If you find yourself losing focus, consider taking a walk or stretching to keep your blood flowing. Doing all-nighters, getting no rest, postponing meals and consuming large amounts of caffeine won’t do you any favours by the time your midterms, or even finals, roll around.

Taking care of yourself physically is as important as taking care of yourself mentally. Check out Campus Wellness' big list of self-care and distraction activities for ideas on how to manage stress. Good luck on your midterms!


If you are looking for more help with motivation, try connecting with a Peer Success Coach for academic strategy support. For more tips like this, check out Campus Wellness' Coping Skills seminars, particularly Strengthening Motivation.

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