Midterm Season is Upon Us
Every semester, without fail, midterms take me by surprise. I always think that I have a few extra weeks to learn the material until I look at my calendar and realize my first midterm is less than a week away. I can’t emphasize enough how quickly university semesters go by. You barely feel a class has started when suddenly you’re expected to know several chapters worth of information, be able to use a dozen different equations, and write to the standard expected by your professor. I remember in my first semester, midterm season was even scarier because it was the first time that I was going to be graded as a university student and had no idea what to expect.
I think this “fear of the unknown” is what really gets to new students. By this point, I might still be surprised by how quickly midterms come up but I know that I’ve gotten through them before, so odds are, I can get through them again. New students on the other hand have absolutely no idea of what to expect and have spent years listening to people say how hard university is. An additional problem is that school doesn’t stop for midterms. Labs, assignments, and quizzes still need to be completed and you still need to attend class. This can make finding study time much more challenging compared to exams.
With that in mind, it makes complete sense as to why so many students call home worrying about how they’ll do on their midterms. The first thing you can do to help students is to listen and communicate that you understand the stress that they’re feeling. Some students may be suffering from decreased self-esteem and not believe that they can pass the midterm. In these cases, tread lightly, but a good strategy can be to help them find their own strengths. For example, remind them of their good study habits, previous good marks, ability to work under pressure, or any other skill that would help see them through.
A word of caution, my roommate and I were talking and we both admitted that when we get advice from our families, we often will tell them that it won’t work and that it’s not good advice. Then, we turn around and do what they recommended without telling them. However, more than one or two pieces of good advice tends to cause frustration and we tune out for the remainder of the conversation because we’re overwhelmed.
Some other tips for students during midterms:
- Write a to-do list including due dates for the next couple of weeks. It will help ensure that you don’t miss any other coursework while you’re busy studying.
- Look after yourself. Coffee, energy drinks, and candy might seem to get you through the night, but most students feel better and do better if they eat well and continue to get adequate sleep.
- Don’t skip lectures to study for midterms. This creates a downward spiral where you get more behind in other courses and then need to skip more class in order to study for those midterms. Once you get behind in university, it’s very challenging to catch up.
- Read the information on the midterm format carefully and ask question if necessary. Some students might study very differently for a multiple choice test rather than a written test. Knowing the details often reduces stress for people as well.
- Start studying now! Try not to leave studying until the last minute if possible. Spreading study time out helps you understand information, not just memorize it, potentially making exams easier to study for.
After the majority of midterms are over and marks start trickling in, I’ll be posting an article regarding grades. In the meanwhile, an important thing for all students to remember is that a midterm will not make or break your university career so even if you don’t feel like you did well, try to be positive and move forward.