It’s week 6, and we’re officially over 1/3 through the semester! This means that the dreaded midterm season is upon us, with my first round of exams beginning this week! What does this mean? More long nights studying, less free time to be spontaneous around LA, and more anxiety and stress around campus. But, since this is my sixth semester at USC, I’ve found that even though my classes are getting harder, midterm season has gotten easier over time. Through trial and error, I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks along the way that have helped make each midterm season less painful year to year. Here are 5 of the most useful things I’ve learned since starting at USC:
This is the hardest one for me! It’s so easy to say “the midterm isn’t until next week, I don’t need to think about it yet!”, but the night before an exam is the worst time to start studying. I’ve found that about a week in advance is the best time to start reviewing notes, organizing study groups, and making study tools for midterms. Since midterms often come back to back, prepping for midterms a week in advance also helps prevent burnout from cramming every other night!
Take Time to Relax After a Stressful Exam
In two weeks, I have one midterm Wednesday (Fluid Mechanics), and another on Thursday (Environmental Engineering Principles). I’m certain that as soon as my Wednesday midterm finishes, I’ll be tempted to jump right into studying for my next midterm. But I’ve found that taking at least an hour to have a nice dinner, watch a movie, and destress after a midterm can help reset your brain and prepare you for studying for the next exam!
Study with Friends
There are so many benefits to studying in a group! One of the major benefits is being able to work out solutions with your friends. If you get stuck on a tricky concept, your combined efforts may be able to sort everything out! Another major benefit of studying in a group is being able to review with others — learning material is one thing, but being able to teach others proves that you REALLY understand something! Sometimes, explaining a difficult idea to someone else may actually help simplify it for yourself.
Take Good Notes Throughout the Semester
Show up to every class, pay attention, and hold on to every homework and handout you get! I keep a binder full of all my homework assignments from every class, and a notebook for every topic with notes from every day. When you have all the material, it becomes much easier to study for an exam! Scrambling to get notes from a friend is never a good way to start studying.
Ask Questions When You Have Them
Going to office hours and asking a professor for help when you need it saves you from floundering when studying for a midterm. If you have a question, don’t leave it for right before the midterm! Talking to professors during office hours shows that you are actively participating in class and are engaging with the material, and the professors may even give you tips for studying for exams! Basically, don’t wait until the week before to ask all your questions–office hours are often swamped right before an exam.
Whether you’re taking midterms in college or exams in high school, good luck in the coming weeks! Amazingly, summer’s less than 100 days away! I hope these study tips help until then. Fight on!!