Holy cow I can’t believe that it is week six is already done and we are onto week seven! This semester seems to be flying by! But with the semester rapidly passing that means we have already come upon midterm season. While I prepare for my next set of midterms I wanted to share some of my study tips that I have used over the years that I feel have helped me most succeed while taking these tests.

Build A Study Plan

The first thing I like to do as soon as I know I have an exam is put it on my calendar and think about when I need to start preparing. Putting it on your calendar is also really important because you can see if you have tests or projects that overlap and it can help you figure out how to best divide your time. To make my study plan I make a list of all the material that will be on the exam and divide it over several days. I always start with material that I find to be the most confusing and then go to material I am more confident in. This gives me time to go to office hours or to ask clarifying questions during lecture before the exam.

Making “Cheat Sheets” 

For some exams professors will allow you to bring a small piece of paper with equations and notes to help you on the test. When making these I like to use lots of color and highlighters for organization. I’ll typically group notes into sections and make my sheet based on those notes. I like to make my titles for each group or equation name a different color than the actual notes so I can find it easily during the exam. Even with things online and some tests fully open note I still like to make a condensed version of one page of what I feel are my most important notes for the test. This helps me save time from flipping through all of my notes

Spread Studying Out

Even if you feel confident in a class never wait until the day before the exam to start studying. I feel this is especially important for me this semester because I am taking my classes from home. This means that I don’t really have separation from where I take my classes, do my homework, and do my studying so I find myself getting fatigued by the material faster than in previous semesters. I help combat this by spreading out the time I study. This means I’ll study for about an hour at a time while taking breaks away from my desk in between. I then come back feeling more refreshed and ready to take on the project.

Get Help

When you’re studying and find that some material isn’t clicking get help with it! Whether it’s asking a peer or going to office hours, it is always a good idea to make sure you fully understand material you might not feel super confident in. There are also things like Supplemental Instruction, Viterbi Learning Program (VLP) and the Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity to help you excel in the classroom as well.

Taking The Test At Home

With school being online this semester, the way I approach my tests has definitely changed. I always tell my family when I will be in an exam so they know not to disturb me and I’ll put a post it note on my door to make sure they remember. Since all my exams have been taken on my computer I also make sure to mute all notifications on both my laptop and phone. I also like to make sure that my workspace is completely clean so I don’t get distracted during my exam.

Reward yourself

Honestly midterms can be really stressful and hard and it can be really easy to forget about anything that’s not academic related. It’s important to take a step back from work and do something fun for yourself. I like to destress by watching an episode of my favorite tv show or make a snack while listening to my favorite podcast.


These are all the things that I like to do to help me prepare for midterms and finals and I hope these help you too!

Alexandra Rennie

Alexandra Rennie

MAJOR: Industrial and Systems Engineering YEAR: Class of 2022 HOMETOWN: Palos Verdes, California PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @_alexrennie On campus I am the current captain of the USC Spirit Leaders, an ambassador for the Wrigley Institute of Sustainability, and a member of Greek Life.