Preparing for mid-term exams takes good study habits and a little common sense.
Reed Hilton-Eddy, learning strategist at Ryerson University, says ultimately the goal of any exam is to test your mastery of the material so think about what exactly the purpose of your course is — it’s likely you’ll be able to guess roughly what questions/topics you’ll be tested on.
“Put your professor hat on — if you were teaching this course, what would you want people to come away knowing. Professors are not trying to purposefully flunk students and I don’t find that often what they put on a test is a surprise,” Hilton-Eddy said.
Plan specific things to do that will help you study the material rather than just thinking you need to “study” in general.
“I encourage students to avoid that word, study, as it means everything and nothing. Be specific. Think, ‘I have one hour so I’m going to do 10 practice questions,’ for example. The more you’re actually doing with the material the better you’ll grasp it,” Hilton-Eddy said.
Taking breaks is crucial but be wary of letting yourself slip into procrastination.
“Resist the urge to stop too soon. Obviously breaks are appropriate and necessary but try to build up a stamina, see how long you can actually stay at the task at hand,” Hilton-Eddy said.
- Review your notes after each class – you’ll retain and understand information better when it’s still fresh in your mind.
- Do weekly reviews of what you’re learning and approach you professor or teaching assistant with issues as they crop up – they’ll be swamped near exam time and you’ll get more out of the experience by speaking with them regularly.
- Make use of campus resources for studying and academic support – counsellors can offer you some learning and study strategies you may not have tried before.
- Start studying at least one week before any mid-term exam and at least 2-3 weeks in advance of a final exam to give yourself enough time to master the material.
- Convert all subheadings in a chapter into exam-type questions.
- Use cue-cards with pre-written topics and questions to quiz yourself.
- Mnemonics and acronyms do work – use whatever memory aid works best for you to remember challenging data.
- Have a routine the night before an exam – check where the exam is being held, prepare a lunch or breakfast in advance, find something that helps you relax before you go to bed.