5 Methods for Midterm Prep Success

Here's how to properly prepare for your midterm exams.

Ashley Paskill

October 05, 2016

5 Methods for Midterm Prep Success

Every semester, midterm exams take place on campuses across the country. They occur during a concentrated time frame, causing students to stress out. Projects, homework, and midterms try to overwhelm, but there are ways to prepare for midterms to conquer them confidently.

Do not cram for your midterms.

While it is tempting to put it off when other assignments or fun events pop up, avoid the temptation to wait until the last minute to study. Cramming makes you less likely to remember the material come exam day, forcing you to blank on questions. Take notes about or highlight readings, focusing on the key points to pick out possible exam questions. Make outlines of each chapter and include both lecture and reading material. Studying and preparing as you go throughout the semester will help you study along the way and decrease the workload you will have around.

Focus on what your professor says is important.

If a professor says something multiple times, it is likely that it will appear in some way on the midterm. Professors typically take key points from the book, so if something in the book is not highlighted in class, it will most likely not appear on the exam, but this varies by professor. When taking notes in class, write what is on the slides in your own words so that you can understand the material in your own terms. If your professor posts the slideshow online, do not copy it down. Instead, focus on taking notes on what the professor is saying that is not on the slides since this material is often fair game for the midterm.

Take productive study breaks.

This goes along with not cramming. Focusing on one subject for long periods of time overwhelms your brain, causing you to forget what you studied. Study for a half hour and do something else, such as take a walk or do an assignment for another class. Do something that rewards you but is also productive. Do not reward yourself with food, but if you need a snack, make sure it is healthy so that your brain can function well. Break up material, allotting a chapter a day, so that the information is more digestible.

Make a study guide.

Focus on key points and material the professor says is important. Instead of writing text and lecture notes word for word, write them in your own words, allowing you to use language that you will understand. Rephrasing shows that you understand the material enough to translate it to simpler words. This helps you study because you get to think about the material and write out the material. The act of writing out your notes as opposed to copying a pasting helps you memorize the material.

Form a study group with classmates.

Talking about the material out loud shows that you understand it enough to give the information back as opposed to just recognizing an answer in multiple choice. This is especially helpful for exams that have short answer and essay questions. Ask the group to make a study guide and compare yours to theirs, making sure to notice any differences in something that was said in class or in the textbook. Make sure you prepare for the group by reviewing your own study guide before the study session.

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