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Just as you are getting into the swing of your first year of college, midterm exams start looming on the horizon. While you may be feeling understandably anxious about midterms, the reality is that with a little preparation and foresight, you could position yourself to score well.

The Ultimate Guide to Midterm Exams

Below, we will provide a comprehensive guide to preparing for your first round of midterm exams. This begins with a solid understanding of what midterm exams are, what they entail, and why they are so important. From there, we will provide some actionable tips for preparing for your first college midterm exams so you can test with confidence!

What Are Midterms?

A midterm exam is a large test that is typically held midway through the semester. These exams are usually given for each class in which you are enrolled and are designed to test your knowledge of everything that has been covered in the course so far.

You should know far in advance the date(s) of your midterm exams in college. Check your rubric or course schedule for specific information or reach out to your professors so you can plan accordingly.

How to Study for Midterm Exams in College

Midterm exams can make up a substantial portion of your grade (more on that later), so it is important to prepare with plenty of studying. Not sure where to begin when it comes to studying for midterms? Here are a few practical tips to keep in mind.

Start Studying Early

First, know when your midterm exams are scheduled and create a study plan ahead of time. Do not make the mistake of waiting until the night before your midterm to study. Not only is “cramming” ineffective, but this method can actually cause you to feel burnt out and overtired on the day of your exam.

Instead, try to set aside a few hours per week to study for each of your classes. This should include reviewing any notes you have taken and testing your understanding of key concepts. A little studying throughout the semester will prepare you for midterms far better than a cram session the night before.

Take Notes Throughout the Semester

Speaking of notes, refining your note-taking strategy can go a long toward helping you come study time. Make an effort to take excellent notes throughout the semester by finding the strategy that works best for you. For example, some students find taking notes on their laptops or tablets to be most effective, whereas others do better with old-fashioned paper and pen.

Regardless of your preferred method, try to keep your notes organized and to the point. Color-coding and using highlighters for key terms and concepts can also be helpful in turning your notes into effective study tools.

Ask Questions

One of the best ways to prepare for a midterm exam is to simply ask questions throughout the semester. If you do not understand something, asking for clarification can help improve your comprehension—which is especially important in a college class, where concepts often build upon one another.

Create a Study Guide Tailored to How You Learn Best

Study guides can be an excellent resource to prepare you for a midterm exam. Some professors or instructors may be kind enough to provide study guides, but you should not count on this being the case. Fortunately, with a little creativity, you can create your own study guide that is custom-tailored to your unique learning style.

Attend Office Hours

Professors and instructors alike offer regular office hours (usually one or two days per week) where students can touch base with them, ask questions, and get help with key concepts from class. Be sure to take advantage of these office hours as you prepare for midterm exams, as they can be extremely helpful. If you cannot attend office hours on campus, most professors are happy to speak with you via video chat or phone call with a little notice—so do not hesitate to ask.

Try Not to Stress

This may seem easier said than done but do your best to avoid stress leading up to midterms. Guided breathing exercises, meditation, or even going for a walk in nature can alleviate stress and help you stay calm leading up to your exam.

What to Do After a Midterm Exam

After your exam, it is a good idea to review any concepts that you may have struggled with; there is a chance they could appear on your final exam or in other course material. Your professor or instructor should let you know what kind of turnaround to expect before you receive your midterm grade. In the meantime, try not to overthink your performance on the exam. Instead, focus on moving forward.

How Do Midterms Affect Your Final Grade?

The weight of a midterm exam on your final grade can vary, but it is common for your grade on midterms to make up about 25 percent of your overall grade in the class. To find out exactly what kind of weight your midterms have, check your course rubric or ask your professor directly.

Start Preparing for Midterm Success

Midterm exams are hardly any college student’s idea of fun, but they are necessary. With a little preparation and dedication, you will be on your way to an excellent grade. Meanwhile, students at Post University can take advantage of a wide range of student services to help them prepare for academic success, including tutoring, academic advising, and much more!

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Please note jobs and/or career outcomes highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs or career outcomes expected from any Post program. To learn more about Post’s program and its outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions advisor.