Just like final exams, midterm exams always seem to creep up on us when we’re least expecting it. It’s hard to believe that it is already time to start preparing for midterms when it feels like the semester just started.

College Midterms

If you’re a freshman in college who did not have to worry about midterms in high school, the overall concept of midterm exams can be confusing.

What is a midterm exam?

Midterm exams are a type of assessment that usually occurs in the middle of an academic semester. For example, if your semester is 16 weeks long then you will be taking midterms at around the 8-week mark. Most students who started classes in August can expect to be taking midterms sometime in October. The exact timing of your midterms will depend on the class itself.

It is crucial that students take midterms seriously. Even though the weight of a midterm exam is different for each course, the grade you receive on a midterm can have a big impact on your final grade in the class. Midterms are a very good indicator of how well you are retaining course materials. If you do not do well on your midterm exam it is important that you reevaluate your study habits and note-taking practices.

Exam Format

The exact format of the exam can be different for every class. The questions on a midterm exam will usually be based around the course materials that have been covered up to that point in the academic term. The most commonly used exam formats are:

  • Multiple Choice
    • Multiple choice exams are usually pretty straightforward. For these exams, you will most likely just need to come prepared with the correct pencil and any other materials you are permitted to have with you during the exam.
  • Short Answer
    • These types of exams usually consist of a question that you will answer by writing a few sentences.
  • Essay
    • In some cases, your midterm might consist of one question or prompt that you will be required to answer by writing an essay
  • Multiple Choice & Short Answer
    • Some exams might consist of both multiple choice questions and short answer questions.

Several days leading up to the exam, your instructor will most likely let you know what the format of the exam will be. You can also always ask your instructor ahead of time what the exam format is going to look like. Some instructors might require you to bring special materials with you to the exam, be sure to double check with your professor what exactly will be needed on exam day.

When to Start Studying for Midterms

We all know that it can be very tempting to put off studying and procrastinate. Even if you think you work well under pressure, it’s vital that you give yourself plenty of time to prepare for an exam. Since you will most likely have more than one midterm exam to prepare for, you will need to plan ahead and plan your study time wisely. In order to give yourself plenty of time to study, It is recommended that you start preparing for your exams at least 1-2 weeks before.

In the days/weeks leading up to the exam, take some time to sit down and plan out your schedule for the next several days. In your calendar or planner, write down all of the exams you have and when they are scheduled for. Block out study time each day and plan ahead for which exam you want to study for at what time. 

Effective time-management is crucial at this point in the semester. For more information on how to better manage your time, check out our top tips for time management.

Tips for College Midterms

College campuses have a vast amount of resources available to students who need help studying. If you’re struggling to understand any course material, it is crucial that you remember to use the resources you have available to you.

If you need textbooks in a hurry to study for your midterm exams, eBooks are an excellent choice. To evaluate your options, check out our blog post on the Best Sites to Buy and Rent Digital Textbooks.

Study Groups

If you are someone who learns better with people, consider joining a study group. A study group can be a group of people who are in the same class who meet to work through the material together. A study group can also be a group of friends who you know you work well with.

Study Sessions

In some classes, instructors will schedule study sessions in the weeks before an exam. These sessions are usually a time where the professor will go over the material that might be on the exam and answer any questions that students may have.

Study Guides

Professors will often create study guides and make them available to students before an exam. Study guides are an excellent resource to use, because they provide great insight into what might actually be on the exam. Study guides also provide you with more clarity as to what you should be studying.

Study Space

College campuses are filled with several spaces to hang out and study. For more information on study spaces, check out our blog post all about good places to study and do homework.

Even though exams are important, it’s good to remember that even if you fail it’s not the end of the world. If you didn’t do as well as you would have liked on your midterm exam, visit this blog post for more information on what to do next.

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