Midterms: What you Need to Know to Succeed!

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For many of you your end of year exams or midterms are fast approaching. This article will give you some great study tips and outline the best ways to prepare from now right until the day you sit your mid-term exams.

The Weeks and Months Before your Exams

1. Organization: This is one of the most effective study skills is also one of the most often overlooked. Creating a study timetable allows you to set yourself study goals and assign a timescale in which to achieve them. Having a study timetable also increases your motivation to sit down and learn. ExamTime has a free Study Planner tool which makes organizing your study extremely easy.

2. Mnemonic Rules: Mnemonic rules basically work by associating certain concepts with other concepts that are more familiar to us. Mnemonics are especially useful when memorizing lists and sets. For more information on using mnemonics to memorize information, see Study Tip 8 in our article ” How to Study: 10 Study Tips to Improve your Learning“.

A classic example is ‘Richard of York Gave Battle In Vain’. This Mnemonic rule is for recalling the primary colors : Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet.

3. Procrastination: Overcoming procrastination is a very important skill when it comes to achieving exam success in your midterms.  To achieve the correct amount of health procrastination, you need to adopt the right frame of mind. Being actively motivated and organized is the best way of overcoming procrastination. Read our full article on Overcoming Procrastination.

4. Learning Style: Understanding the best study techniques for you is key to effective learning and your consumption of new information. Some people prefer to read, while others prefer to listen. Some people learn best by doing while others like to plan things out logically. Understanding how to get the most out of your style of learning will help you in the long-run. It will also impact how you approach and plan your study in the run-up to any exam. Discover which learning style best suits you in our blog post “How to Get the Most out of Your Learning Style“.

5. Best Time to Study: Are you a  morning or a night person? What you answer will shape when you should be studying. Having this information and knowing the best times that suit you to study will greatly help you get the most out of your study. You can get some tips on the best time to study in our article which details the pros and cons of adopting each method.

The Week Before the Exam

The week before the exam is NOT the time to start studying. The week before your mid-term exams is when you should be ensuring that you have studied everything you need to study. If you have created a study timetable using ExamTime’s Study Planner tool and followed your schedule consistently, you should be in a healthy position for your midterms.

It is important to note that you do not need to cover every topic 100%. You can cover 80% of a topic well most of the time but learning that final 20% will take you longer than learning the rest. Most of the time it is better to move on to another topic instead of spending so much time and energy trying to study that last 20%. Also, many subjects do not require you to learn every topic in a course syllabus, you can usually leave out some areas and avoid questions on that topic in an exam.

midtermsThe week before the exam is when you should double-check that you know the format of the exam. Having an in-depth knowledge of the exam format is imperative. Your teacher/lecturer should talk you through the format and if they don’t, make sure to ask. Before you enter the exam you should know how long you have, the different sections and how much each section is worth, the different types of exam questions in  each section and how long you should spend on each question.

By this point you should be using ‘trigger‘ words to see if you know a topic. A trigger word is a word that, once you hear it, your mind automatically begins to make different connections and trigger key words, terms, concepts and definitions. Like a Mind Map, there is a central idea (the trigger word or term) and from that explodes and whole bunch of different, but related, information. Once you can do this across a topic you should be confident that you have covered it well.

The Night Before the Exam


No student should be proud having done an ‘all-nighter’ – these are counter-productive. You should instead focus on making sure you have everything you need for the exam. Eat well and go to bed early. Relax as much as possible. You can read over any summary notes or sample questions you may have but you shouldn’t be studying something you haven’t already covered in the previous weeks.

Think positive. Don’t focus on what could go wrong during your exam. Just remember that you have prepared for your midterms and you’re ready to accomplish the best result you can!

The Day of the Exam

Here’s some quick tips for the day of your mid-term exams:

  • midtermsWake up early so that you don’t need to rush through having your breakfast and getting ready
  • Check the venue and time of the exam to make sure that you have not confused turn up in the right place at the right time!
  • Before leaving home, check that you have everything that you will need – Student ID, stationery, map to the exam venue, etc.
  • Remember to write your name on the exam paper. You would not believe how many people have forgotten to do it!
  • Read all the exam questions carefully before starting and quickly plan how much time to allocate to each one

These are just some of our tips for preparing on the day of your exam. Explore our blog article “The Day of the Exam: 15 Tips to Boost Your Exam Performance” for more last minute exam tips.

Have we missed something? Tell us your tips when preparing for your end of year exams.


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