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MIT student blogger Jack-William B. '21

Getting Through a Difficult Month by Jack-William B. '21

Study, Study, Study

March was the busiest month at MIT so far. It truly felt like it was never going to end. It seemed like all my midterms were clustering on the same week, and in some cases the same day, and I felt overwhelmed beyond belief. Now, as Spring Break comes to close, and the month of April has arrived, I feel ready for the next two months of school before the summer break.

So, with second semester in full swing, I had about 5 midterms in March, a presentation that accounted for 30% of my grade, and what felt like the largest amount of homework in existence. My classes have split into two categories, and the amount I spend on each category is extremely different. For me, I spend the mass majority of my time on my Physics and Real Analysis class. Both of them are extremely interesting to me, but they are my most challenging to courses at the same time. Last week, I had my first analysis midterm. Coming into the class, I heard some pretty sad stories about midterm averages, so I was definitely concerned about taking the test after learning a very large bulk of the material that was all fair game to be tested on. Luckily, that week prior and weekend, I spent a large portion of my time studying and asking questions in office hours that made me go into the exam with a lot more confidence than I thought I would have.

That Real Analysis exam really changed the way I viewed tests and the way I felt before exams in the preparation period. Sure, I had felt a little anxious before an exam before as just about anyone does, but for the first time, I truly was scared I was going to royally mess something up on the day of the test. I thought I was going to forget a technique, or I was going to panic and not be able to produce some counterexample that when I was studying haunted me! I really for the first time was pushing myself to spend countless hours studying for a test that truth be told, I haven’t necessarily had to do before.

In the end, the month was stressful because of time. Sure, if I only had to deal with Real Analysis, which feels like 48 units of class sometimes, it would be a lot more manageable, but I have four other classes in reality. The biggest life lesson that I took out of this month is time management when things started popping out that aren’t part of your schedule. In my last few posts, I have shown my schedule and talked about managing full plates, but the office hours, independent time devoted to studying, that is really at the student’s discretion. There were a lot of time where I wanted to stop doing some of my schoolwork to watch The Office or bike, but I had to plan accordingly, so I could do as good as possible on my exams and make sure I was learning material.

It is, in the big picture to me, a tradeoff. In comparison to last semester, I am learning more, I feel much more motivated, and feel like I’m improving as a person both in and out of the classroom. At the same time, I have less “free-time”, but I made up for a lot of the busy time during this extremely rewarding Spring Break. Like, right now, my family is here, and we have been all over Boston these past few days! I got to try all new restaurants, explore all new sites that were less than a mile from campus which attests to the fact that there is literally so much that can be done in terms of this city, and got to have a much-needed week off from the hustle and bustle of classes, research, and tutoring. I have a good feeling about April, and all my weekends coming up have something exciting in them! CPW is in two weeks. I can’t wait to see all the incoming students and experience the crazy weekend not as a pre-frosh this time. Well, all that in the upcoming weeks. For now, I have to play an April Fool’s Joke on someone :)