Surviving Your Midterms: Part 1

“Midterms:” the word evokes fear, stress, disgust, even confusion.  All are fair reactions!  Why are we subjected to this torture?  Is it even the middle of the semester?  I only wish I knew, and no it isn’t.  That’s why there are multiple rounds of midterms, and this week marks the real beginning of the first round for Notre Dame students.  Having gone through some wildly unsuccessful and some amazing midterm seasons, I thought I would share what I’ve learned so far!

My first tip on the journey to surviving midterms something that you’ve heard a million times; start studying earlier rather than later.  We all always plan to do this, but sometimes it feels impossible.  Especially with the load of four other courses, putting aside time from assignments to study for exams in the distant future often seems impractical.  However, if you can’t make time to start studying a couple weeks in advance, there are two important things you need to be doing: keeping up with readings, and going to office hours.

If you actually master all of the material as the class progresses instead of cheating on the homework and pretending you did the readings, studying for the exam will be a breeze.  Additionally, if you get to know your professor through office hours, only good will come of the relationship.

During my freshman year, I was in three intensive science/math classes that were too much to handle with my other classes as well.  I had a hard time staying on top of assignments, let alone studying and mastering material, so I fell behind.  Before each exam, I relied on my friends to completely teach me the material.  Sometimes this worked out for me and sometimes it didn’t, but the bottom line was that I was completely dependent and unprepared.

Now I go to office hours the second I don’t understand somethings, I sit down on Sunday/Monday and take all my notes for the week, and I put actual thought into the homework before asking for help.  The difference has been exponential, and everything feels easier too because I genuinely understand it!

My next tip is another seemingly obvious one: allocate your time wisely.  This applies more than you would think originally; I’m not just talking about studying on the Sundays after football games.

Oftentimes during midterm weeks, you will have more than one, or even several exams clustered together.  There were a few times last year that I had four exams in a week, and I swear I almost didn’t make it out.  Consistently, I found that when this would happen, I would do very well on the first test, well on the second, okay on the third, and mediocre on the fourth.

This was because I put aside time to study for them in the order they were occurring, and I lost time and steam as the week went on.  Although you may be most stressed for the first exam of the week by the nature of its order, it is absolutely essential that you first evaluate everything you have to do and prioritize those that you know you will have the most trouble with.  (This is very challenging for perfectionists like the students of Notre Dame!)

I could go on and on about how to study, what to do on the day of the exam, and more.  Hopefully I will in Part 2 in the near future.  Until then, please use my advice and the Luck of the Irish to guide you to straight A’s!

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