Tips to help you prepare for midterms

group of students studying in a KSL collaboration room

By Kat Walcott ’22

Study guides

If your professor gives you a study guide, begin filling it out early. While study guides are unlikely to contain 100% of the information the professor will test you on, they are a good place to start. When professors are creating exams, often the study guide is the first place they will look for questions. 

If your professor does not give you a study guide, don’t worry! Use the learning objectives posted by your professor or go through your notes and sum up the main concepts to create your own. And remember, depending on the class, you may not have enough time to read every word of your notes before the exam, and that is OK. Rely on your notetaking skills and focus on the most important takeaway from each lesson.

Previous exams

Just as some professors give out study guides, others share examples of previous exams. If your professor does this, make sure to use them. Set yourself up in a quiet room with no notes, and take them as if they were a real exam. Although they won’t be identical to the test you’ll take, they will do wonders for showing you what you already know and what you need to review. 
Some professors may even reuse questions from past exams they’ve shared, so make sure you get those free points! Additionally, these previous exams will also help get you used to your professor’s testing format.

Study with a group…if it works for you

Although studying with others doesn’t work for everyone, for some it can actually help with focus and offers a chance to share ideas and ask/answer questions. If this sounds like you, find a group of students you can study with before the exam. 

Set a date, time and place to sit down and get substantial studying done. If you’re not sure where to go, try studying in your residence hall’s common area or reserve a group study room at Kelvin Smith Library. Just make sure you aren’t disturbing anyone else as they try to study.

Understand, don’t memorize

As you study, you are bound to come across questions you simply don’t know the answer to. When this happens, rather than simply memorizing the correct answer, go back into your notes and try to understand why the answer is what it is. This will help you learn the information and build knowledge for later use, but it will also be helpful when an unexpected free response question, or a tricky multiple choice, shows up on the exam.

Be kind to yourself

One of the hardest things about preparing for midterms is that you need to hold yourself accountable while also keeping yourself from burning out. As you study, pay attention to how you are feeling. Make sure you are staying focused, but don’t be afraid to give yourself a break when you need one. After all, this is a stressful time! 

And if you have difficulty focusing or staying organized, try out some of these apps: Flora, Microsoft To Do, Habitica, Remember the Milk, and

Exam week

Once it gets to the week of the exam, make sure you are eating right, hydrating, and above all, sleeping. Take time early on to plan out your schedule so you don’t have to cram the night before. Once the exam is over, no matter how it went, let yourself relax. Be happy! It’s over. 

As you prepare for, take, and get exam results back, make a note of what worked for you and what didn’t. This will help you hone your study skills for the next exam. For example, if you felt your original class notes were lacking detail, or if you felt that they were too detailed, now is the time to change that before the final exam.

Liked this article? Check out these webpages and past articles for more tips to help you study: