Tips for Taking the Midterm Exams

So … the time has come for midterm exams. The dreaded ritual twice a year that high school students must complete in order to graduate.  

My own experiences with midterms differ quite drastically from each other. Freshman year, fueled by the fear of failing, I studied the entire Christmas break, earning the best grades I have ever received on those exams. Sophomore year, I put in adequate hours, just enough to pass quite well but not enough to really excel. Junior year, I must admit that I really did not study, because I was rather unmotivated by the fact that these were my second-to-last midterms. I put in hours for Chemistry but besides that everything was very night before-last minute. However, senior year, I have decided to try for a happy medium in which I study to do well but not to the point of burdening myself with unnecessary stress.

What is my advice on studying for and taking midterms? My main advice is to start early! For concepts that you just never understood, work on those concepts at least two weeks beforehand. This allows you to see your teacher for help and also just put in the extra effort and practice that you were not able to do when your were first tested on the material. My second piece of advice is be organized! I personally created file folders for each class. I then compiled all of my tests and study materials in order of concept and put them in the folders. For classes that I had never created study materials for, I made most of my study guides over Christmas break. I recommend doing only a little bit of preparation over Christmas break, and instead enjoying the holiday and resting your brain. You will definitely need it upon returning to SHA! However, be sure to complete your organization before the weekend before midterms so that you will have an adequate amount of time to study. Also, it is incredibly important to study all your first semester tests! Many teachers have a final exam that closely mirrors their past tests, and some actually copy and paste questions from those tests directly onto the midterm exam. If you recognize the questions, you can very easily breeze past multiple choice or other objective style questions.  

Something that is very important to remember is that midterms are a basic review of what you have learned. They are certainly not as detailed as when you are first tested on the material. There are certain concepts that you may have to know in detail for essays, but hopefully your teachers should give you enough insightful hints. Think about what you spent the most time on- that may just be one of the topics for the essay(s) or short answer question(s).

The night before a midterm, go to bed early! If you do not know it by 10 or 11 p.m., you probably will not know it by studying late into the night. In fact, you will probably do more irreparable damage by confusing the material you already did study and forcing yourself to take the exam with an exhausted mind. Do not stay up late cramming, because doing so will severely impact your ability to think critically and recall all the material you had learned! Also, be sure to eat a hearty, hot breakfast! Mrs. Gnaidek showed my AP Calculus AB class actual data that supports that students who eat a hot breakfast actually score better on exams. In my own experience this is certainly true! Last May I conducted my own experiment by eating hot oatmeal or eggs and toast for each AP Exam and I found that it really does provide the necessary fuel to get through those grueling exams.  

Good luck everyone! Remember that midterms are only 10% of your grade. They can play an instrumental goal in bumping your grade from a B to B+, but they ultimately do not mean life or death. I have gotten a B- on a midterm and still passed the class with an A. Although you should put your best effort forward, try not to stress out too much!