A lot of people come into university dreading final exams, however many quickly realize that midterms can be just as, or even more stressful than, their end of semester counterparts. So, what are some things to keep in mind while studying for the pesky midterm?
1. Midterms take place when classes are still in session.
As opposed to the days of library living that most students go through around final exam time, midterms happen in the midst of your regular school routine. You’ll still have assignments, lectures, labs, and even extracurriculars while you write midterm examinations. This makes it crucial that you finish up all assignments for the weeks when you have midterms as soon as you humanly can. Sitting down to study for a math lab quiz when you have a chemistry midterm the next day is among one of the worst feelings in the world. Get all the little things done well in advance so you can spend the nights that count actually looking at relevant information.
2. Midterms can approach REALLY quickly.
When it comes to the first weeks of September, students are very prone to lounging around with the notion that finals aren’t for months, so there’s not really much to worry about. It’s best to try not to fall into this mode of thinking, and rather work at a gradual pace that ensures understanding. Essentially try to get on top of the class material from the get-go, because by the middle of October, or even earlier, some students find themselves drowning in notes they just don’t comprehend. A good way to do this is to go over notes the night after each lecture, which solidifies conceptual understanding and gets you thinking about what’s next. However, if you do find yourself behind by the time midterms roll around, going over the course notes in depth is still a great starting point to ensure you’re prepared. That being said, make sure to engage yourself when going over notes! Try blocking off the answers to examples and thinking about how to solve them beforehand, or maybe flip back and forth to try to create connections between various sections of your notes.
3. Midterms cover course material pretty much right up until the exam itself.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the hard stuff your professor covered four lectures before the midterm won’t be included. In my experience, professors can include concepts introduced until a week before the midterm. As a precaution, make sure you’re not falling into the trap of focusing on the oldest material, and pay attention to what the professor specifically dictates will be covered on the examination. On the flipside, don’t focus too heavily on the newest concepts either, and make sure to to manage your study time according to what’s most difficult or weighted most heavily. This actually goes hand in hand with item 2 covered above, where you need to make sure you’re on top of things constantly.
4. Be careful when studying off old midterms.
Don’t get me wrong, old exams are a GREAT way to study. You just have to make sure the exams aren’t too old, or that the curriculum hasn’t changed for your current year. Professors will, from time to time, change things up. What this means is that the cutoff line for course notes that will be tested may have moved slightly, or that some concepts have been thrown out all together in favour of something deemed more appropriate. Be careful to note any such changes, so that you’re not caught off guard by a new concept while you became an expert on something that is now obsolete. This also applies to final exams, but midterms are more likely to vary from year to year.
5. Use the resources that the university has to offer!
The U of A prides itself on the numerous and varied services it has to offer, so go ahead and give them a try! Whether you’re stressing out a bit too much over midterms, or just aren’t sure where to start, the Student Success Centre is your one stop shop for education assistance. Their mission is to “provide professional academic support, and offer a range of programs and services designed to help students accomplish their learning goals at university.” That includes midterm review sessions, writing resources, and even peer support. I mean how perfect is that?
Now if you really just want a better understanding of what you’re learning, or just some extra help before midterms, getting a tutor can be exactly what you need. Just head on over to the Students’ Union Tutor Registry and you can find one on one sessions available for a variety of courses.
Now go out there and vanquish the silent killer that is the midterm exam.