How I Study for Midterms

I study for midterms a little bit differently than I study for finals - I'll make a post about that in a few weeks when finals really get started. I'm going to outline how I start studying for midterms in a timeline format that I use to prepare for exams. Midterms are usually a bit more intense, so if I can, I actually start review materials up to a month in advance, but the format below is the standard timetable I use to prepare for them. Enjoy!


2 Weeks Before: 

  1. Start going over notes from the previous lectures.
  2. Check with your professor to find out the format and if there is anything specific you should pay attention to in the notes.
  3. Create a study guide/study plan for your midterm.
  4. Consolidate your notes into one document if you type them.
    1. I color code based on topic and date to easily find information.
  5. Begin going over practice questions/terms/short answer/essays.
  6. Make flashcards or dictionary term sheets if you feel the need to.

1 Week Before: 

  1. Begin to skim and reread all of the readings/chapters/notes
    1. Pick out the relevant information - understand the general along with most of the specifics.
  2. Go back over the practice questions, redo the ones you aren't sure about and get help if you need it.

3-1 Days Before:

  1. Go back through vocabulary terms, write short bullet points to remind yourself.
  2. Rework some of the problems in each area to remind yourself how to do them.
  3. Relax, you got this!

The Day of Your Exam: 

  1. Drink some caffeine about 20mins before your exam to help you focus.
  2. Check to make sure you have everything for the exam - bluebooks, pencils, calculator etc.
  3. Review any notes you feel like you need.
  4. If you are friends with classmates, you can discuss any questions you guys may have about topics before the exam to remind yourself.
  5. Write out any specific things you want to remember on a sheet of paper before the exam as a refresher before you go in.
  6. Relax. Breathe. You got this.

After Your Exam: 

  1. If you are super nervous about it, do something fun with your friends to take your mind off of how the exam went.
  2. Check back over your notes to see if you got something right or wrong if it makes you feel better.
  3. Meet up with your friends later that day and talk about how you guys felt about the exam.

When you get your Exam Back:

  1. Don't panic if you didn't do as well as you hoped.
  2. Look over the ENTIRE exam.
  3. If you think your professor may have missed giving you credit for something or if you think you got points taken off for, schedule a meeting with your professor to discuss it.
  4. Understand that you did what you did and you (generally) cannot go back and change any of what you put down. Accept it and work to move on. If the grade was that devastating, talk to your professor about what you can do to make it up or even talk to your advisor about dropping the class and trying again at another point.