Midterm Survival Tips

(Alberto G./Flickr under CC BY 2.0)

Midterms are upon us, and that means that your profs expect you to have actually learned a thing or two by now. For some of you, this will be alright. For others… well… perhaps now is a good time to hope for a divine miracle of sorts. To help along that miracle, here are a few things that you can do now to increase your chances of survival over the next few weeks.

  1. Implement a study-reward system to increase the likelihood that you’ll actually open your textbook and maybe read it. My preferred method of reward is that I give myself a gummy bear each time I read one page. This way slogging through paragraphs upon paragraphs of text is slightly less despairing. Bonus fact: positive reinforcement works better than negative reinforcement according to science.
  2. When you’re studying try to rewrite whatever you’re studying in your own words (do not just copy the text verbatim from your notes, slides, or textbook). If you can rephrase the material you will be more likely to understand it and remember it better because you’ve interacted with it. And when you’re doing this, try to write out your rephrased material in blue ink. There are some people that swear that blue ink aids in memory retention better than any other colour, and let’s be real, anything is worth a shot.

  3. Talk to yourself (or someone else if there is a willing person). This is another way to engage the material. The best way for this to work is for you to try to teach the material to someone else or join a study group, but if you don’t have anyone willing then you could just talk to yourself or read your notes out loud too. This is a trick that some theatre actors/actresses use because if they read their scripts out loud, they are more likely to remember their lines. This is because you’ve engaged with the material in several ways at the same time: reading it, saying it, and hearing it.

Now that you have some quick and dirty tips for your upcoming exams, don’t forget to get a good night’s sleep the night before your test and to relax. There’s nothing worse than being an anxious mess when you’re trying to write an exam because your brain works against itself. Good luck, and have a piece of cake when you’re done your exams. You’ve earned it!