Advice on Preparing for Midterms

Monday, Mar 1, 2021


Pace yourself!  Plan your entire midterm week schedule from the outset so you don't burn out.

Don’t stay up all night studying for an exam tomorrow since you’ll then be in recovery for the rest of the week.  Research clearly shows that cramming will not deliver a better grade.  Adequate sleep, nourishment, and exercise are the key ingredients to exam success.  Don’t neglect après-exam relaxation.

Remember that exam questions are different from other types of class assignments.   Exam questions are designed to make you think synthetically, apply concepts, and manipulate information.  They are often qualitatively different from other term-time assignments like problem sets or short essays, where the purpose is simply to rehearse a single concept or understand a particular argument. Invest some time clarifying what the questions are asking and planning (briefly) your response before diving in to answer. The best way to study for exams is to practice responding to actual exam questions.   Copies of old exams are usually available on course sites or from teaching staff.  Use them!

Fully utilize campus resources.  Attend review sessions and study groups;  if you have questions about course content or expectations for an exam, don’t be shy -- ask your preceptors and professors;  talk to a study skills consultant at the McGraw Center about how to effectively study for exams and manage your midterm schedule.

Keep things in perspective.  There will come a day when you don’t do as well as you hoped on a midterm exam.  Take a deep breath and remind yourself that midterm grades, in general, represent a relatively small fraction of the final grades.  You will be able to recoup a poor midterm grade, especially if you are careful to learn from any mistakes.

Good luck!