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How To Prepare For Midterms & Finals

Updated: Jan 14, 2023

Time to gear up towards your next exam? Our team is here to help! We know how stressful exams can be, but they don’t all have to be the end of the world. Here are a few tips to preparing for your next exam whether it be midterms, finals, or anything in between:

1. Study w/ Classmates
It can be important to find a partner to compare notes with, study together, and push each other to be better in a new class. Your group may grow over time to help each of you learn and grow together. If there’s ever a concept you all disagree on, you can flag it for the teacher to go over later so everyone can be on the same page. 2. Attend Your Class Review If you have the chance to attend a review session, put it on your calendar. This can be an important meeting where you may find out the format of the exam, what concepts and material may be targeted, what key topics to expect, and what questions to keep in mind when you are studying.

3. Create Flashcards Rewriting your notes into important facts, concepts, and definitions on flashcards can help you quiz yourself and others to pinpoint areas that need practice. Some schools utilize digital flashcards or study apps that can keep studies on the right track as well. 4. Create Visuals Once you condense your material via flashcards, you can better highlight your notes via keywords or concepts. Try reformatting them into charts, diagrams, mind maps, or outlines to visualize the material to make better sense of complex concepts.

5. Read & Review Make sure you’re studying new and old information over and over. According to the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve principle, we forget 70% of what we have learned within 24 hours. It’s important to take a quick review of what you have gone over in one class day at the end of the day, or the next morning. This will help keep new material fresh and old material from fading away.

6. Change It Up Don’t spend the entire session on one subject or you may risk burning yourself out. Change topics every 20-30 minutes and revisit challenging topics once you give your brain a break. Bring a buddy to study with or a tutor to guide you so you don’t lose your concentration during a difficult session.

7. Study Environment Find the best study spot that will eliminate distractions and keep you focused. For some students, this can be in a classroom or the silence of a library. Others prefer a desk or a lawn. Don’t be afraid to switch it up if a study spot isn’t working for you.

8. Stay Organized Time management can really be a hassle when you have a busy schedule between school, sports, pets, work, and family. Use a planner to visualize your deadlines to stay on track, don’t be afraid to include your syllabus in the back of your planner for later reference and to help you stay ahead.
9. Use Office Hours Teachers announce their office hours so you have a chance to get their one on one focus on assisting you. Stop into your teacher’s office hours to gain some study tips or learn how to better prepare for an exam or even gain feedback on an essay in progress. If you ever have trouble understanding a concept and aren’t getting the answers you need during class time, this is your chance.

10. Understand, Not Memorize It’s one thing to memorize a bunch of information and brain dump it in a quiz or test, but its a whole other level to actually understand the material and concepts at hand. College and government exams tend to test understanding, not memorization, so make sure you know what you're talking about, not just how to get a grade.

11. Utilize Class Time The more you show up to class, the more potential your grade has at going up. Take notes in a way that only you would know best, so you can understand them when you review them later. If something doesn’t make sense, raise your hand and ask about it, or make a note to follow up with your teacher or tutor after class.

12. Break It Up Be sure to break up the material so you don’t feel like you’re staring at the page. According to Oxford Learning, “for every 30 minutes you study, take a short 10–15-minute break to recharge. Short study sessions are more effective and help you make the most of your study time.” Take a walk with your dog, grab a snack, or do some yoga to break up your sessions.

13. Know Your Approach Be prepared for different answer approaches and keep in mind that different study techniques can help different exam types. When it comes to multiple choice, you should be focused on definitions and concepts, essays require conceptual understanding, and so on.

14. Stay in tune Staying focused during a long study session can be tough, but utilize boundaries during your breaks and keeping a calm study environment can really help. Play some instrumental music and place your phone on airplane mode if you need the extra step up.

15. Teach Someone Sometimes learning requires teaching what you know to help you fill in the gaps in what you don’t know. Presentation projects are great examples of this. You don’t have to schedule a presentation about your math homework though, start by talking about a concept. Help someone learn something new, and their perspective can help you learn something new along the way. 16. Test What You Know Once you feel confident after teaching someone something new, you may feel ready for a practice test. Test your knowledge by creating a practice exam and use this to quiz yourself or your study group. This may help you understand on a deeper level and show you what you should be studying next. The memes that come out around midterms and finals don’t have to be relatable. Start taking the steps towards a successful academic adventure and you’ll come out the other end like a whole new student. If you need a hand, our team of dedicated tutors are here for you for test prep and beyond. How do we help raise test scores, you may ask?
Tutoring & Beyond team tutors to the curriculum, not to the test. Students may feel like memorizing potential test questions and answers are the only option, but no - we want our students to understand and know the material they are being tested on. Our tutors are also lifesavers at reducing test anxiety and help students build fun study schedules around their busy lives. Even if you only have one big test you’re worried about, ask a tutor for a hand, they’ll give you the perspective you may be missing. Which exam are you gearing up to take?

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