What Not to Do to Prepare for Midterms


Because what kind of insane creature would even contemplate self-care at a time like this?





Sleeping is for the weak and you know it. Tired after having classes all day and studying all night? Don’t even think about taking that nap, you could be using that time to study, and you know it.

Thinking about going to bed at a reasonable hour? Absolutely not. You shouldn’t even be considering going to bed until at least 1 a.m. Oh, but you have a 9 a.m. tomorrow? Sucks to suck. You were the one who didn’t do the readings last week, and your midterm is tomorrow.

If anyone asks you about sleep your immediate response should be: “Sleep? Sorry, I don’t know her.”


  1. Eat Enough Food

Who has time to grab lunch in between classes when you could be working on that take home that you were assigned a week ago and just started last night? Certainly not you.

You’d better suck it up and make do with that granola bar that’s been sitting in the dreaded mystery pocket in your backpack since the start of the term. You put it there thinking you’d have plenty of reason for an emergency snack, but completely forgot it was there about two seconds after you put it there. Now you’re out of Board Plus, out of time, and out of options.

So go ahead and cram, just not food, your body is a temple of knowledge and you are a lean, mean, learning machine. You will subsist off of half-done review guides and caffeine, nutrition be damned.


  1. Exercise

You don’t need to worry about strengthening your core when it’s your mind muscle that you should be flexing. Have you been sitting in that chair for hours in front of a glaring computer screen? Are your legs numb with lack of blood flow, your back aching from sitting still for so long? Don’t even contemplate taking a break to stretch your legs.

You’re on the last leg…of your essay. If you can hold out without going for a walk, you’ll be done in time for the MAC to close and you to walk past it in the dead of night with a not-even-slightly guilty conscience. Why? Because you finally finished the conclusion of your essay and uploaded it to Canvas without so much as a proofread. You made it to the finish line, kid.


  1. Use Social Media

Social Media and your phone are UNHOLY distractions. You don’t need them, you’re a lone wolf who has been sent on a quest to memorize the most material in the hour before your exam. Your friends and family will only bog you down with their “concerns” about your “unhealthy study habits.” You don’t need that kind of energy right now, the only good energy is the energy that goes into making a Quizlet for all the terms you’ve forgotten since last month.

Better delete your social media until exam period is over. You don’t WANT those notifications to pop up and take your mind off of the optional readings that you’re suddenly convinced will be on the exam in two days.

And no, you absolutely cannot take any time to get your mind off of testing with a mindlessly entertaining YouTube video. If you’re enjoying yourself at any point over the next few weeks, you will fail. Is that what you want? To fail because you decided you needed a laugh? Unacceptable.


  1. Socialize with Friends, Family, or Partners

Unless they’re helping you study, they’re not worth your time. You can only rely on someone as much as they can help you figure out the last question on your P-set. You’ve got 99 problems and loneliness ain’t one when you’ve got your lecture notes to keep you company.

The love of your family is nothing compared to the warm glow you’ll get in your belly when you take that initial glance at your midterm and realize you know the answers to all of the questions on the first page.

The only date you’ll be going on this weekend is with your laptop to the library, where you’ll be stuck in the passionate throes of delight brought on by the ramblings of some long dead white man whose theories you have to have down by Monday.


  1. Be a Normal Human Being with Human Feelings.

Just no. Emotions are a luxury for people who’ve been studiously keeping up with class content since the start of the semester. You certainly haven’t, and you don’t have enough room in your head for pesky things like joy or anxiety when all you can think about are the philosophical musings of some great mind from the turn of the century.

You, like the code you’ve been writing since last Tuesday, feel nothing and have no sympathy for any living being.

Your brain is a sponge ready to absorb, not to process the mushy gushy feels brought on by that poster of a sad-looking small child that you just walked past in the hallway.



Alaya Ayala ‘21 (alaya_ayala@college.harvard.edu) wants to make sure everyone knows that this article was written in jest, and remind her fellow Harvard students to take care of themselves during midterms.