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How to Study Effectively for Midterms

How to Study Effectively for Midterms

By: Yasaman Zavar  

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Midterm season is approaching, and for many, this can be a stressful time, but worry not! In this little guided handbook, I will share a constructive step-by-step guide to help you ace your next midterms.  

It is necessary to say that everyone’s learning style is different, and so are their studying techniques. The tips and advice listed below are not foolproof methods that work for everyone, so do not force anything upon yourself. Spend some time trying to figure out what works best for you.  

Learning Styles

Visual learner

Do you need visual concepts (ex. pictures or mindmaps) to process information?

Auditory learner

Does reading out loud or listening to recorded lectures help you understand materials better? 

Kinesthetic learner

Does learning through hands-on techniques help you process information better?

While keeping these three learning styles in mind, read the following studying methods to figure out which best influences the way you process information and approach problems. This way you’ll know which methods to indulge in and which to avoid.  

Now, without any further ado, let’s get into the steps to help you succeed in any exam. 

Step 1: The Basics

Months/Weeks before Midterms

Make sure you are keeping up with all your class work.

This can help you identify difficult and challenging material before preparing for your midterms.

Prepare a studying plan.

Organization and time management are key here — this allows you to figure out how much time is needed for each subject/topic/course in order to achieve the results you want. 

Identify your available time slots — many students have other commitments outside of university and it is important to know how to use your time wisely and what to prioritize. 

Ensure to schedule breaks in your study plans — this is essential since you do not want to cram on information.

Pro tip: use calendars, scheduling tools/apps, reminders, and etc.

Take care of yourself the night before.

No cramming last minute! It does more harm than good since it affects your memory and makes it harder to retrieve information during the exam. 

Establishing a steady study plan/routine can help you avoid this challenge

Eat well and get plenty of quality sleep.

This will prepare you to perform at your best on exam day.

Be mindful of the food you consume, avoid eating any risky foods that can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep or can result in any health issues and discomfort the morning of the exam.

It is normal to feel overwhelmed!

Spend time with your loved ones, watch a comforting TV show/movie, meditate (this can also be extremely useful on the day of your midterm as well), read your favorite book, or resort to activities that can calm your nerves. 

But most importantly remember that your hard work will pay off!

Important things to remember on the day of your exam.

  • Eat a full and healthy meal  
  • Stay hydrated  
  • Make a checklist of all the necessary materials that you need to bring, such as relevant stationery, student ID, and so on. 
  • Arrive early!

Step 2: Studying Methods

Again, starting early and planning ahead should be your first priority before jumping onto any of the mentioned steps.  

Review class notes by reading and writing down what you remember from memory.

Make this as neat and clean as possible because you can use it as an effective summary sheet to review later.

Go through your homework and assignments.

Highlight any mistakes or key factors that you think you need to know for the exam.

Use cue cards / flashcards.

This is extremely helpful when it comes to memorization  

Pro tip: You need to be typing/writing out each definition or important concept that you’re memorizing. 

Make or find practice tests.

Pro tip: write them timed and in test-like conditions for better results.

Find study groups.

This can aid with your understanding on topics (because two brains are always better than one) and will make studying feel less like a chore and more fun! 

Reach out to your professors.

If you have difficulty understanding or studying certain topics, reach out to your professors/TAs as soon as possible!

Find help.

Look for tutors or workshops on campus.

Use efficient studying and note taking methods

  • Pomodoro technique (helps with time management)
  • The 1 2 4 7 method (used for memorization) 
  • 45 15 or 50 10 method (time management) 
  • SQ3R method (reading comprehension technique)  

  • PQ4R (memorization and better understanding) 
  • Feynman Technique (helps with better understanding)
  • Color coded notes (dynamic way to organize and prioritize information)  

  • Mind mapping (organizing and efficient note taking- best for visual learners)  
  • Cornell, Outline, Charting, Sentence, Box and Bullet and Zettelkastan (different but extremely effective note taking methods)  

Now go ace those midterms! Good luck! 

Hi, my name is Yasaman Zavar, I am a fourth-year double major in Law and Society and Philosophy. I enjoy writing because it helps me organize my thoughts and ideas into words. I also love to express my emotions through different styles of writing, whether that would be poetry, storytelling, fiction, academic, creative, etc. I like to read, go on walks, do music therapy, listen to classics, and spend time with loved ones! I believe that words are powerful tools capable of opening doors to new and different worlds and realities through embodying people’s unique perspectives and mindsets. Thus, as someone who enjoys writing, it is my mission to use its magic and allow others to also experience such enchantment!

— Yasaman Zavar

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