Dealing With the Stress of Midterms

As we enter the midterm exam period at Missouri State University, many students are beginning to feel stressed.  For many students, midterms serve as a “wake-up call” to the academic rigor of college.  As family members, we can serve a vital role in lessening the stress of midterms and encouraging our students to persevere.  Here are some tips that you can use to help your student through the stress of midterm exams:

  • Listen and understand that this may be a stressful experience for your student. Sometimes he may just need to vent or complain about the amount of work in order to refocus his energy and let out his emotions.  He may not necessarily be looking for you to offer your opinion. Use this opportunity to listen to what your student is saying and help him stay level-headed through the midterm season.
  • Help your student keep midterms in perspective. Remind him that this is a normal part of the academic year. Let him know that he will get through these few weeks and then things will be back to normal.  Although the midterms may comprise a major portion of his final grade, he is not likely to fail an entire class based on one exam. Remind him that if he has been doing his best work all semester then he will probably do well on the exam. If he is having trouble comprehending the material, urge him to talk with his professor or seek out tutors or other academic resources such as the BearClaw.
  • Encourage your student not to panic. Remind him that stress can adversely affect his overall health, and help him recognize that he has to take control of his emotions. If he is extremely behind on his work, encourage him to study what he can but not to feel overwhelmed.  Some students feel so overwhelmed that they panic and do nothing.  Anything that he does, even if small steps, will help.
  • Don’t micromanage. While it is great for you to offer study tips or stress-management suggestions, make sure that your student is learning how to manage his time on his own. It is important that he takes ownership of his actions and understands how to personally manage tasks.
  • Help your student develop realistic expectations. If this is his first time taking a major test in college, he may not end up doing as well as he hopes. Remind him that this is his first experience and encourage him to not let that affect his drive. Help him realize that this is a learning experience and that, like many other things in life, he will get better with practice. Encourage your student to reflect on the decisions and study habits he used to prepare for this midterm and encourage him to assess whether those habits were successful or not.
  • Don’t pressure him to talk about it. In some cases, your student may not need to vent or talk about the stress of his midterms, and that’s okay. He may just want to focus on studying and acing his exam.
  • Send your student a letter or package. Remind your student that you are there to support him. Your words of encouragement may go a long way in helping your student reduce his feelings of stress.

Tips taken from

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