Most people view midterm season as an undefeatable opponent and fear the day when it arrives. However, the truth is, with a good head on your shoulders, a gameplan, and the tips and tricks in this blog, you will walk out of it like Iron Man walking away from exploding a tank with a missile as big as a couple pencils and be more than prepared for another one.
The first mission will be finding your successful study habits. Everyone has different ways of studying and, most of the time, habits change between high school and college for studying. Personally, in high school, I did most of my studying right after school for a couple hours and had my nights free. Here, I learned that I prefer to relax after my classes and study more at night. I used to study at the kitchen table at home, now, I study in my room at my desk. Whatever works best for you will be found after your first couple of midterms. Do not be afraid to try new places/methods to increase your ability to study.
The most important tip I can offer is use the resources around you. There is an abundance of help for almost every class that could be the deciding factor between a B and an A in a class. Here is a list of outside help methods that are super beneficial:
Office Hours: Go to your professor’s office hours. They love to see that you care about their class and are putting in extra effort. They are the ones who create the exams, so they may be able to offer extra advice. In the process, you will build a good relationship and understand the material for your class on a deeper level.
Viterbi Academic Resource Center (VARC): VARC is an on campus tutor center full of engineering students that excelled in classes that you will be taking. They can be a great resource because they have taken the class you will be taking and can offer not only midterm advice, but how to succeed in the class in general.
Study Groups: Sometimes study groups can seem counterproductive and, in high school, that is generally true. However, get together with students in your major/classes and learn their perspectives on material. Your peers can often be the best help because they can explain concepts in different ways than the professor that click in your mind better. In addition, if one of your mates is not understanding something, you can teach them. Teaching material is the best demonstration of knowledge on the subject.
Supplemental Instruction (SI): For your math and science classes there will be a session of SI each week that is meant to boost your knowledge about content learned in class. This was my best friend for Calculus. Every week, I essentially got another class to understand material and continue to practice and sharpen my skills.
There are plenty of options for outside resources for studying, but those are the main ones I find myself utilizing and find to be the most useful.
Even though your brain won’t want you to, you NEED to take breaks. After pounding material into your head for so long, you can start to lose motivation or simply just get lost in all of the pages. Whether it be going for a run, playing spikeball/other sports, finding a nice area on campus to hammock or hang out, playing some video games, or just kicking back and watching the sunset or laying in bed. The dopamine release is very refreshing and gives your brain a necessary breather.
Lastly, change your mindset about midterms. Do not dread or worry for them. Embrace them and have confidence in knowing that you have learned the material and you WILL kick the snot out of the exam. Best of luck and find your Iron Man moment!