By Nazeefa Ahmed, November 9 2022—
Disclaimer: This article may or may not be written from the author’s personal experience
In the last week before reading break, many students are practically jumping off their seats to write all their midterms. They absolutely love having to remember one tiny detail from September and have multipart questions based on it. While this is a well-established fact, researchers at the Faculty of Education, in partnership with the Department of Psychology, have dug deeper into the science behind students’ love of midterms — their findings are jarring.
Their research showed that students writing midterms go through three phases of grief, which purge their minds of all negative emotions. By the end of the experience, they become a numb blob of nothingness — they are so happy that they are often brought to tears after a midterm. After having their dreams crushed when comparing answers with their peers, many usually rush home and melt onto their mattress — blissful and without a care in the world. Researchers see this as part of a student’s natural life cycle and encourage professors to make the exams harder for the most potent reaction.
In their published paper, The Midterm Cycle of Happiness researchers studied the three stages of grief and kindly summarized them for us.
1. Pre-exam anxiety
Right before the exam, many students congregate in front of the exam hall and increase each other’s anxiety levels. This is usually done through phrases like, “Did you remember to study this?” and “Should I drop out?” and, the brown girl favourite, “If I fail, can I become a housewife and find an engineer husband?” The true goal of this ritualistic practice, however, is to make oneself feel as though they don’t know anything and will possibly fail. It is important that this feeling is as all-consuming as possible.
2. Select all that apply
Once students begin writing a midterm, they are on pure adrenaline. Nothing can stop their flow, except for the infamous “Select all that apply” question. These questions are designed to take up more than half of the allotted time and make students want to crush whoever wrote the question. Students are filled with blind rage and waste a lot of energy trying to find the correct answer — what these students don’t know is that after releasing all that anger, they set themselves up for long-term happiness through acceptance.
At this point in the midterm, there is nothing more the student can do. They usually accept that the ideal mark they need is far from their grasp. All unrealistic expectations fly out the window and a sense of calm washes through. Students think, “YOLO” and hand in the exam without another thought, then walk out of the exam hall like the girl boss they are. In this moment, they achieve a level of happiness that can not be explained through words.
Midterm exams are an essential regiment in a student’s short and depressing life cycle. Though it is great news that midterms make students happier, more research needs to be done in this area so we can better support our students and their mental health.
This article is part of our humour section.