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Midterms are coming: Four easy steps to help you prepare

Also – check out our strategies and tools for midterms. 

It’s midterm season! Do you feel ready? Here are four easy steps to prepare:

1. Organize
Do you know what the midterm will cover, and what kind of questions will be on the exam (problem solving, multiple choice, short answer)? Are you missing any lecture notes or key information? Have you gathered all the available slides and other hand-outs provided in class so far? Classmates can come in very handy during this stage!

2. Chunk
Break your course down into smaller, manageable sub-units. You might choose to chunk by week, lecture notes, chapter, unit, novel, or case study. As you do so, reflect on which chunks you feel comfortable with and which ones might need a little more effort — this will help you prioritize where to spend most of your study time. Think about how many hours you’d like to spend studying each chunk of material. Space out your study time over five days – it’s easier for your brain to remember course content is you study for briefer blocks of time spread over longer periods.

3. Study
If you can, study in 2-hour or 3-hour blocks, during which you alternate 50 minutes of review and 10 minutes of break time. We call this the 50/10 Rule! Spend 50 minutes re-familiarizing yourself with the information and then reviewing: try flashcards, reciting information, discussion groups, or re-organizing your notes into summary notes. After 50 minutes are up, take a 10 minute break to go for a walk and wake up your brain. Do your best to study during daylight hours, when your brain is more effective.

Pay attention to anything your professor may have repeated or emphasized in lecture; that can be a good sign it will be on the exam.

4.  Self-test
This is a key component of studying, and one that students often neglect. Why? Because recognizing course concepts as you’re studying is very different from having to recall course concepts during the midterm – we want you to practice recalling these course concepts, without being prompted by your study notes.

A great way to self-test is to create or predict practice midterm questions, and then answer them. You can develop these questions based on your readings, look over exams from the previous year, quiz yourself with flash cards or with a study buddy, or use study guides or sample questions from the textbook. This will help improve your recall time of the information (which is very important during the midterm, for obvious reasons!).

Keep track of what you do well and what you don’t do so well, and make sure to return to those problem areas until you feel more confident.

Want more?

Check out our strategies and tools for midterms.


Photo courtesy of JuditKlein