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Managing midterms

Let’s be honest: Midterm week is difficult. This past week I have had four engineering midterms in four days. So here are some useful tips I wish to share with everyone to better manage the most stressful time of the semester.

1. Plan early and know the scope of the test

Go to the syllabus or Moodle page of your courses and write down all test dates in your monthly planner or Google Calendar, so you can plan study time accordingly. Also, know what chapters this midterm will cover. Is it just the material from after the first midterm, or is it cumulative? Ask professors, TAs, and classmates if you are unsure about the dates and/or the material covered.

2. Start preparing earlier and do not cram

Start at least a few days before the exam to prevent anxiety. For instance, if you have one on Monday, one on Wednesday and one on Thursday, start preparing for the test on Monday first by making crib sheet, going over lecture notes, homework etc. After you are decently comfortable with your grasp on Monday’s midterm, proceed to the Wednesday’s one, and so on. Just make sure you don’t leave everything till last minute because you might not have enough time to cover everything you need to know for the test.

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3. Study smart

The way you prepare for a test really depends on what classes you are taking. For courses that are more memorization-based such as biology, psychology, and marketing, flashcards will be helpful in memory retention. In classes like physics, math, engineering, perhaps practicing problems will be more helpful than reading the book verbatim.

4. When in doubt, ask

If you are not sure about a certain concept or how to approach a problem, try going to professors and TA’s office hours. It will also be very beneficial to know some friends in your classes so you can ask them about what you don’t understand. Depending on your learning style, study groups might also be a good idea so you can help one another understand the material more. However, it is important not to get too distracted in a study group.

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5. Before test day

Get enough sleep and try not to stay up too late studying before test day. Eat a good breakfast, drink coffee if you need to, and make sure all your materials are in good conditions (calculator with batteries, crib sheet, writing utensils, any books you need if the test is open-book).     

6. After midterm week 

Congratulations for surviving an especially difficult time of the semester! Treat yourself and make sure to relax and recharge by indulging in fun hobbies and activities, eating some nice meals and catching up with some friends. Also, do not get too upset if your grade is not what you want; after all a midterm is only worth probably 20-30% of your grade. I’m not saying that it is not significant, but rather learn from your mistakes and do better next time.

I hope you guys find these tips helpful when it comes to studying and good luck!