You know the feeling: school is back in session, you're juggling classes and extracurriculars and soaring along, until: midterms. They can sneak up on you and leave you feeling unprepared, but don’t fret - midterms can actually be a useful tool for understanding which classes you’re doing well in and which classes you may need to dedicate more of your time to going forward.
Whether in high school or college, midterms can be daunting and stressful, so here are some midterms tips to avoid overwhelm and study like a pro:
1. Make Your Own Study Guide
Some teachers and professors will create a study guide, which is a good place to start. But it's often more helpful to create your own study guide, or even work on one alongside some friends.
Taking this approach can give you some perspective on which areas you’ll need to focus more on and how much time you’ll need overall. It can also be helpful to think through questions that might be on the test, and then worrying about the answers.
2. Break Studying Up & Stick to a Schedule
Ah, the dreaded all-nighter. It’s well-known to many students around the globe, yet not actually an effective way to study. Your brain is much more likely to absorb information if it’s broken into chunks over a longer amount of time rather than cramming everything in the night before. Not to mention that showing up for your exam without proper rest won't help your performance.
Earlier in the term, use your syllabus to make a list of the topics that might be on the exam and split them up over a long period of time. Set up small intervals, like 15 or 20 minutes, each day to study and commit the information to memory.
3. Organize a Study Group
You aren't the only one worried about your upcoming midterm. Find a group of friends or classmates who can study with you and help keep you motivated and commit to certain times to study.
Study groups are also great to bounce ideas off each other or do exercises like flash cards and quizzes. Maybe during the test, you'll remember something a fellow student said and be able to find the right answer where you would have otherwise struggled.
4. Stay Well-rested
Staying up late every night studying and depriving yourself of sleep won’t ultimately help you do better on your midterms. Stay well-rested leading up to and the night before an exam, and your test scores will likely reflect your mental state.
5. Turn off your Cell Phone & Avoid Social Media
Social media and text conversations are very tempting forms of procrastination. To keep yourself focused, turn your phone off for your study sessions.
If you’ll be using your computer for studying, download an app or browser extension like StayFocusd that blocks the websites you find most distracting.
6. Take Breaks
It’s important to give your mind a break every so often. If you’ve been studying for a while, reward yourself with some time to rest and recharge or use that time to exercise which can boost your energy and help you stay focused for your next study session. This can be a short break for coffee between chapters or getting a good night's rest and picking up your books the next day.
7. Try a Relaxation Technique
Anxiety, stress, and panic may start to rear their ugly heads the closer you get to exam day, so take some time to try a relaxation technique like yoga or meditation during your study breaks. Simply shutting your eyes and taking some deep breaths can also help ease anxiety and stress, and leave you more clear-headed going into the test.
Studying for midterms isn’t necessarily fun, but it can be less painful if you take the time to make a study plan and stick to it. Know how to study for a midterm properly and you don’t have to sacrifice your physical and mental health for a grade. Coming into the classroom on test day with a clear mind and healthy body will do wonders for your test scores.
Hopefully these tips helped you understand how to study for midterms in high school and college. Best of luck on your exams!