Top 10 study tips for college midterms and final exams

It may seem like you just moved into your dorm room, met your roommate, unpacked your clothes and attended your first big lecture. But, guess what? You’re already almost halfway through this term of classes, and that can only mean one thing — MIDTERMS!!!!

One of many study tips for college to keep in mind. (Credit: Quickmeme)

One of many study tips for college to keep in mind. (Credit: Quickmeme)

Although this concept has been known to drive people to the brink of sanity — mostly due to lack of sleep, caffeine consumption, and stress — rest (pun intended) assured that you can survive these daunting exams! Heck, you may even be able to ace them without even breaking a sweat. Just follow these study tips for college midterm exams and you’ll breeze through midterm week!

1. Skim: On midterm eve, you may be tempted to open up your chemistry book and read every word of chapters 1-55 (each chapter being approximately 35 pages). Don’t! This is a waste of time. Instead, focus on chapter headings, footnotes, the course syllabus (the subjects listed on here are probably the ones the professor deems most important), study questions, and chapter reviews.

2. Don’t cram: On this same note, don’t wait until the night before your exam to begin studying for it. Instead, begin preparing now! A September 6, 2012 article titled “Prepare Not For College Midterm Exams,” posted on SayCampusLife by Matthew C. Keegan offers some great tips on time management so you can get a head start on your upcoming midterms. Setting aside study time, reviewing notes from class, and planning early will help you feel prepared, says Keegan.

3. Attend review sessions, study groups: You may be tempted to skip out on that review session or study group being held by your TA, but this could be a huge mistake. Most of the time, these study sessions cover the main exam topics, and TAs usually let more than a few exam questions slip during these meetings.

4. Enjoy the silence: If you aren’t attending a study session, find a quiet place where you can stay focused and uninterrupted — the library, an empty classroom, the park. Your dorm room may seem like the most obvious place, but have a plan B ready for when the distractions hit (and they will).

5. Disconnect: Facebook, Pintrest, Twitter, and email are all unnecessary distractions, so while studying, disconnect for an hour or so. You may be surprised at how much you can accomplish when technology doesn’t get in the way.

6. Figure out what will be on the exam: No, this doesn’t require any mind reading abilities, but it does require you to listen and pay close attention to your professor. A 2010 post by Jeremy S. Hyman and Lynn F. Jacobs for the U.S. News & World Report titled “8 Clues to Figuring Out That College Midterm” offers up ideas such as using old exams to study and giving that review sheet another glance.

7. Meet with your professor: Stop by office hours to discuss difficult concepts, ask questions about lecture material, or just to find out what types of topics the midterm will cover. You may be surprised at how much your professor is willing to share.

8. Stay healthy: During midterms, it’s easy to overindulge on junk food, up your caffeine intake, and basically suspend all personal hygiene (you won’t be interacting with anyone anyway) — never mind the fact that you have no time to make it to the gym. Don’t fall into this rut. Instead, schedule time for healthy meals and regular exercise, and don’t forget about that shower! You may just find that these breaks help you stay focused.

9. Take breaks: Consequently, a 12-hour marathon study session won’t do anything but make you crazy. Instead, take short breaks every hour or so, even if only for 10 minutes. Leave your study area when you do — that bit of fresh air may be just what you needed to clear your head.

10. Relaxation, preparation, and time management: It’s finally here! Midterm day! Don’t let all of your hard work go to waste. Instead, check out CollegeAtlas’ post titled “Test Taking Strategies for College Midterms and Finals” (i.e. using the restroom before the exam begins and not spending too much time on a difficult question) to help ensure that you go into your midterm stress free and ready to ace that exam!

Follow these top ten tips, and you’ll be in a far better position to ace those midterms and ever-approaching final exams!

What other study tips for college do you recommend? Let us know in the comments.

4 replies
  1. MEILECH
    MEILECH says:

    I think the best trick to past your midterm is to listen in class from the beginning and reviewing – that simple. Sorry but all above are for students that didn’t take their classes seriously.

    Reply
  2. J.S.
    J.S. says:

    Try teaching yourself. Do all assignments before they’re taught in class and ask questions on things you get stuck on. By being proactive, you’ve just increased you chance to succeed. We’re all grownups and don’t need to be spoon fed info. I’m taking a lesson from my kid, he taught himself basic at 9 yrs old and started college at 15. His 2 greatest strengths, being personable and teaching himself.

    Reply

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