Starting October means welcoming fall, the start of cooler nights, pumpkin carving… and midterms.  Midterms, as a junior, are simply another part of my classes, something that I pencil into my schedule like anything else.  Doing well on a midterm can secure your grade for the rest of the semester, which is why I now look forward to them and prepare accordingly.  But when I was a freshman, midterms intimidated me and took over the middle of my semesters, taking precedence over most of my other activities. When I wasn’t in class, you could find me in the quiet section of Leavey Library, with a stack of textbooks and multiple Starbucks cups.  It’s taken me a few semesters to really get the hang of midterms, so hopefully you’ll start out a few steps ahead by reading my tips on how to conquer them.

Put them on your calendar during syllabus week

Whether you use a physical calendar or an online one, make sure that you mark when midterms are the second that you learn about them.  Most teachers will have the midterm dates on the syllabus, so that you aren’t taken by surprise later in the semester.  When you have them written down a few weeks in advance,  you’ll see them again and again as you add more things to your calendar. If you see right away that you have more than one midterm in a week, you’re probably going to want to start studying a little bit earlier than you would for just one.  Plus, you don’t want to make other commitments during your midterm preparation that you’ll either end up bailing on or attending while wishing you were home studying.

Go to office hours well before your midterms

One plus of having your midterms laid out on your calendar is that they’ll be on your mind a few weeks in advance.  If you’re worried about a class or want to ask for advice on how to prepare from your teacher or TA, plan on going to their office hours the week (or even two weeks!) before your midterm. If you have a midterm on Wednesday and you’re planning on going to office hours on the Monday before, I promise you you’re going to have to wait in line with the rest of your classmates, and maybe not end up getting one-on-one time.  If you can’t make office hours, you can email your instructor with your question, or ask to arrange a different time.  Any sign that you’re reaching out will impress them, I promise.  My teachers have always been thankful and helpful when I show initiative by asking about the midterm a few classes in advance.

Don’t let midterms psych you out!

When you talk about midterms, people’s heart rates tend to pick up. But if one thing has helped my grades the most, it’s remembering that I need to relax.  Midterms aren’t any reason to stress yourself out.  We all have them around the same time, so you’re in the same boat as the rest of us, and we’ve all survived so far! They’re just another part of your grade, like homework or labs.  And I promise, as long as you take a few days to get your notes together, review, and learn the material, you’ll do great!

Now, I’m going to go take my own advice, review some practice problems, and get a good night’s sleep before my first midterm of the semester. Good luck to everyone!

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Civil and Environmental Engineering, Class of 2016, Learn more on her profile here!