6 Tips For Acing Your Midterms


Are you worried about your upcoming college midterm exams? Check out this article for six effective ways to make sure that you get the grades you want.

Midterm Madness

If you've noticed that your fellow college students have been getting a little bit frazzled, stressed, and panicked lately, no, Mercury isn't in retrograde. It's just that the midterm season is coming up. But you knew that already… Right?

All jokes aside, midterms are second only to finals as the most overwhelming part of every semester. Since your college grades are based on fewer factors than they have been during any previous part of your educational career, the pressure is really on for the big exams. We don't blame you if you're feeling the stress. Thankfully, you're in the right place. Here are our six top tips for acing your midterms this semester.

1. Take It One Test at a Time

One of the most challenging parts of midterms is that you're bombarded with so many of them at once. All (or most) of your classes will be scheduling their midterms during the same week or two, which can be a lot to handle. But don't let yourself get so worried about drowning that you forget to swim. Take a deep breath. Write out your midterms schedule, and ask yourself:

  • When is each of my exams?
  • How much time do I have in between each midterm?
  • Are any of my midterms in the format of essays or take-home tests that I can get out of the way at the beginning or end of the process?

Make a plan for how you'll tackle the tests and then follow that plan one step at a time.

2. Use Study Guides

Your most invaluable tool for midterm success will be the study guides your professors will probably give you. If your professors don't give you study guides, ask for them or make your own! Study guides are crucial test-taking tools because they identify exactly what you need to know for your exams. As long as you're confident with all of the material in your study guides, you'll be able to ace your midterms.

Study guides come in many forms. Some of your professors might be so kind as to give you a list of questions to expect. Others might just give you a bunch of concepts to memorize. Either way, use what you have. Turn your study guides into checklists and make sure that you can honestly check off each individual concept as something that you've mastered. Study until every list has been checked off; once you've done that, you can be confident that you'll succeed.

A group of college students study for midterms together

3. Teach the Concepts

You might be asking, ''How can I be sure that I've mastered a certain concept?'' Well, there's no better way to confirm your understanding of a topic than to be able to adequately teach it to somebody else. Find a study buddy or join a study group and then, for their benefit and your own, teach them any concepts that you aren't 100% sure that you've mastered. Answer whatever questions they might have.

If you can do this successfully, you can be sure that you've really got the material down pat. If you can't, this is a great way to identify where to focus further study.

4. Make the Most of Your Free Time

Okay, now you're saying, ''Sure, these are great tips, but it sounds like a lot of study time.'' You're right. Acing your midterms isn't going to happen unless you put the work in.

But you don't have to be pulling all-nighters for a week straight. Maximize your busy schedule by making the most out of any breaks you have during the day to get a little bit of study time in. In-between classes? Study. Grabbing a quick bite to eat? Study while snacking.

You have no excuses because, chances are, you're carrying a little computer around with you that can help. Whether you choose to use online flashcards and online lessons, or just review your own digital notes, your phone is an invaluable study tool during midterm season.

A college student studies for midterms on a tablet in her free time

5. Ask Professors or TAs for Help

If, after all of this studying, you're still unclear about anything at all, don't just sit back and stress about it. Be proactive and seek out your professors and/or teacher assistants (TAs) to clarify the topics at hand. They have office hours for just this reason. These educators will work with you, explain tricky ideas, and answer your questions. They'll also clarify any confusion related to the study guides. All you have to do is ask.

6. Take Care of Yourself

Remember when we said that you shouldn't have to pull all-nighters all week? We lied. What we really meant to say is that you shouldn't have to pull all-nighters at all. It might be tempting to get some last-minute studying in, but if you follow your study plan, this shouldn't be necessary.

Pulling all-nighters won't be nearly as helpful as getting some much-needed rest and sleep and letting your brain process all that you've been teaching it. On top of adequate sleep, you'll want to make sure that you feed yourself some healthy food, stay hydrated, and try to address any excess stress or negativity to the best of your ability. You want to be as physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy as possible when you sit for your midterms so that you can really concentrate on the task at hand: getting those As.

A college student sleeps while studying for midterms

Final Reality Check

If you're still feeling stressed, it's time for a reality check. You got into college, didn't you? You've been going to class and taking dutiful notes, haven't you? You're a smart student, aren't you? And now, if you follow these tips, you can ace your midterms. We know it. You've got this.

Looking for an online content library to help you study for your college exams? Check out Study.com's college courses in every subject.

By Daisy Rogozinsky
September 2018
college college success

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