The trials and tribulations of midterm cramming

If receiving an ‘A’ on every test was as easy as memorizing all the lines to your favorite movie, students would not have to experience anxiety, stress or unease.

The news of upcoming midterms has reached the ears of many students at SMC, one of them being Beatrice Gutierrez.

“I hate midterms. I have to cram everything in,” she said. “I begin to try and study before the test but I procrastinate, even if I try and study I forget everything I learned the day of the test, it’s horrible!” she said.

For many students, midterms can be a stressful time. It involves a lot of memorizing, skimming, repeating and cramming in pages of information.

For others, midterms may not seem like a big deal and feel comfortable waiting until the day before the exam to review course material.

Regardless of which route a student may take to achieve the best grade possible, one might still find himself or herself with a low C, D, or even an F.

According to psychology professor of 25 years, David Phillips, students do not see improvements in their test results because of an issue called metacognition.

“That is your personal assessment of how much you think you know,” Phillips said.

Students will study the material for a couple of hours or a couple of days and believe they have learned the material and in result stop studying.

“I am a product of a community college and at first I was a very poor student, and I had this professor who made it really clear to me about what I needed to do,” said Phillips.

“After that it motivated me to put in more time to hard work,” he added.

Phillips explains that students will overestimate how much they know rather than dedicate time and hard work to learning the subject.

That is what happened to SMC student Angel Cabrera.

“When I first started coming to college, I would read a paragraph and would not fully understand it, but I kept reading,” Cabrera said. “Or I’d memorize the material from the study guides, but by the time I had the test in front of me, I only knew some of the answers and the results were embarrassing,” he added.

Metacognition is not the only reason why students are struggling during exams.

Some students get very anxious prior to tests, which undermines their performance as well.

“My hands get really sweaty and I get real nauseous too! It’s a horrible feeling,” said Michelle Lopez. “I have never been good at taking tests; which sucks because you need to take tests to pass the class,” she said.

Fortunately, Santa Monica College has psychology workshops in the Liberal Arts building, Room 110, to help students overcome test anxiety.

Phillips also said that another way to remove less anxiety is to prepare.

“[Students] fail the test because they feel the need to master the material. It may be that right now you aren’t good at a subject but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the potential to be good at it,” he said.

He believes that hard work is what will drive students to be good at a subject. There are no students who were born smart or dumb, but hard work connects with performance.

Mastering a subject requires hard work and seeking help for test anxiety could result in students receiving more A’s and B’s throughout their semesters.