How to Prepare for Midterms and Finals

As mid-April takes hold, midterms are swiftly approaching! For some strange reason, it feels like the Spring semester just began a few short weeks ago. Yet, the midpoint of the semester is upon us and with it comes heaps of assignments and important tests. Before we know it, finals week will be right around the corner as well. If you're anything like me, the thought of sitting for an exam—whether on Zoom or in-person—puts you on edge and causes an exceptional amount of unwelcomed stress. Oftentimes, I tend to expect the worst because it saves me from coping with disappointment or anxiety. Even when I know I am sufficiently prepared and have nothing to worry about, there is still a part of me that shudders at the thought of failing a heavily weighted exam. When these tests account for 15-25 percent of my overall class grade, how could I not worry? However, being a college has student has taught me the significance of managing my time and preparing for future assignments well in advance. I'm going to share with you my tips for overcoming test anxiety in hopes that you feel compelled to work a little harder to master your exams!

  1. 1. Talk to Your Professor

    magnifying glass with words frequently asked questions inside

    One of the easiest ways to prepare for a major exam is to speak with your professor beforehand! Don't be afraid to ask questions about the format or the material that will be covered. Your professor may also have useful study recommendations or extra credit opportunities, however, you will never know if you don't speak up. The questions you ask should be relevant, so you can get obtain the most accurate information about the upcoming exam. When you know the correct material to study, it saves you time by preventing you from reviewing topics that are irrelevant.

  2. 2. Make a Study Schedule

    A daily planner

    When you make a study plan, you are far more likely to spend less time studying for midterms and finals. Once you distinguish the material that will be covered on the exam(s), create a list of the applicable topics, definitions, and/or questions you need to cover in preparation. Having a strategy for when you are going to review this information will make the process much easier and more rewarding in the long run. For instance, I find that studying a little each night up until the exam is very beneficial for my learning.

  3. 3. Divide and Conquer

    People sitting at table with laptops and laughing

    If your note-taking skills are subpar or if you retain more information by exchanging ideas, it is a great idea to partner up with a classmate or two! For many reasons, study groups are designed to encourage you to study more efficiently and avoid procrastination. For example, assigning each person a specific chapter to outline and quizzing one another on the test material are both excellent ways to prepare. Hence, joining a study group is one way to improve your creativity and communication skills which will also assist in developing your understanding of the subject content.

  4. 4. Quizlet is Your Friend

    Woman sitting on bed with laptop and books

    There are many reasons why I use Quizlet to prepare for major tests! For starters, the site is very user-friendly and I enjoy being able to make content-specific study sets. After completing my study guide(s), I have the choice to test myself on the definitions and terms I have created. There are so many useful options, such as matching, true or false, multiple choice, and/or fill-in-the-blank. I also like to control the number of questions on my practice tests, especially if I only want to review some of the material and save the rest for later. Personally, I appreciate the instant feedback option so that I am aware of the questions I answered correctly as well as the specific information I need to examine further before the test. Why is Quizlet superior? Well, I base my testimony on the simple fact that users have the ability to rely on existing study guides. I find this especially beneficial when I am short on time or just want to make sure I am reviewing the right information! 

  5. 5. Give Yourself a Break

    Tiles spelling out the word 'rest'

    When you're preparing for your midterms and/or finals, it sometimes feels like you're spending all your time reviewing class material. If you study too much, you will burn yourself out! I am a firm believer that "over studying" is real and there are times when I am guilty of it myself. Thus, you should make breaks a priority in your study schedule because they are essential to retaining what you’ve learned. You may also benefit from switching up your study space when reviewing for exams—a change of scenery will do wonders for your mental health! 

Above all else, stay positive and remember that you are capable of great things! Speaking from experience, test anxiety can be brutal when it's not handled properly or ignored completely. The best way to cope with the onslaught of assignments and responsibilities is to recognize that studying is not the enemy of your success, but procrastination certainly is. Although it may be crunch time now, the end is in sight so don't give up on yourself!