Midterms can be hard. Not just because the content can be difficult to learn, and the test can ask difficult questions, but because, while you’re writing your midterms, nothing else stops. Not only are you having to find time to study, but you still have classes, assignments, clubs, socializing, and everything else still going on. With final exams, you are given dedicated exam time, but with midterms, you don’t have this luxury.

This is why it’s important, but often difficult, to find ways to stay on top of your midterms.

A strategy I’ll often see is to stay really organized. To plan out, at the beginning of the year, when all your midterms are and the time you will dedicate to studying for them, with a full study schedule developed for the months before your midterm.

This doesn’t work for me.

I find that when it comes time to actually execute your plan other things will pop up. Assignments, social events, sickness, or even just a lack of motivation to follow through, something will come up to disrupt that schedule.

If this strategy works for you, stick to it! But if not, here’s some tips on how to stay… sort of organized to keep on top of your midterms.

1) Look Ahead

I know I just finished saying that I don’t like to plan out my midterms and study time at the beginning of the year, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not important to plan ahead!

In the weeks leading up to midterms, I look at everything I have to do in the coming weeks. This is everything from the aforementioned midterms, to other assignments, to chores that absolutely cannot be pushed back until after midterms are done, and then I plan out how to get everything else done as soon as possible, so that in the days before my midterm I only have 1 thing to do, and that’s to prepare for my midterm.

Try to eliminate all other tasks you need to do before your midterm, so you don’t have anything additional to worry about when you are preparing.

In addition, try to find time to study as soon as possible, so you have less to do right before your midterm. It helps with studying to space out your study sessions.

2) Plan your Study Time

When it’s actually time for you to sit down and study, don’t just expect to be able to sit down and study for hours straight. You need to plan your study time. Give yourself, at a minimum, a 5 minute break every hour.

When I study, I set a stopwatch and don’t allow myself a break until at least half an hour has passed. This way, I force myself to study for good blocks of time and allow myself breaks, but if I’m on a role learning about a concept, I don’t have any sort of timer going off breaking me from my focus.

Sometimes my timer goes up to 2 hours without me even realizing, and that’s okay, just as long as you allow yourself to take breaks when you need to.

As well, make sure you give yourself time for daily activities! Sleeping, eating, showering…. Incorporate these tasks into your schedule too. It’s important not to let your health suffer, especially when you feel like the only thing you have time for is school.

3) Set your Priorities

School doesn’t stop when midterms start. This is why planning your priorities becomes such an important skill to have in “midterm season”.

Often you’ll have multiple midterms in a day or week, as well as assignments due.

But your midterms are not all the same.

I’ve wrote midterms that ended up being worth 0% of my mark, and others worth 50% of my mark.

I’ve also had courses where I felt I could study for 2 hours and be okay to write the midterm, and others where I’ve felt I could study for 2 weeks and still not feel comfortable.

Obviously these midterms don’t deserve equal time in your schedule.

Sometimes it might feel right to only focus on your next midterm, and then worry about the rest when that one is done, but look ahead! If your next midterm is one you think will be easy, but it’s followed by the one for your hardest class, you might want to give yourself more time to study for the second, challenging one early on.

4) Figure out your Technique

Everyone has different study techniques that work for them.

Figure out the way that you study best, and stick to it.

That being said, there are always many ways you can improve your studying techniques.

Study groups aren’t for everyone, but they can be another great way to keep your time focused and ask questions.

Practice questions and problems are always a great resource. Minute School is great for making a study plan, content review, and practice questions.  

Good luck with your midterms!

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