By Sonia Su, CCD-ERC Student Ambassador
Midterms are coming up, and for some of you, they already happened. Maybe yours is tomorrow or in a few days — and you still need help studying.
Although we don’t endorse cramming, sometimes it happens — Here are my top 3 ways to study for midterms when you don’t have weeks to prepare.
1) Do NOT reread your textbook or all of your notes.
If an exam is in less than 24 hours, rereading chapters 1-20 the day before will only keep you up all night. It won’t help you retain the information. Sure, if you had two to three weeks before your exam you could reread chapters and your notes (this is where good time management comes in).
But if time is short, look over lecture slides, key concepts, past tests, etc., and review only what you need to. Then, a few hours before the test, review what you don’t know so well first, then cover the stuff you could recite in your sleep. Devote brain power to the tough stuff first. You’ll want to capitalize on the information you’re most comfortable with, but it wouldn’t hurt to review material you didn’t get to master. Just don’t try to memorize anything.
2) Do practice exams and review homework quizzes.
As you take more tests in college, you’ll realize that questions on practice midterms, past tests, homework, quizzes, problem sets, etc., almost always appear on the actual exam. In one of my classes, we were tested on the same scenarios that were on the practice exams. In my other class, questions from our problem sets appeared on the test. In a last-minute studying situation, it might make sense to focus on doing practice questions over re-reading your textbook. Your textbook, though, is one of the most valuable tools after your professor.
3) Talk to your peers.
As tempted as you may be to hide the day before your exam, take advantage of the brain power a study group can offer if you don’t understand a practice problem or concept. With office hours, review sessions, study groups, etc., talking to people is easy. Review sessions are gold, because you can not only tap your TA or professor for help on topics, your classmates are there, too.
Plus, studying alone can be frustrating and unproductive. Make studying a more social activity!
Good luck with midterms, and make sure you come to our Midterm Mashup workshops next week (Tuesday, March 5 through Thursday, March 7) for even more tips and advice! Check out our Twitter Chat #ERCMashup, this Friday at 3:30, where we’ll answer your questions on prepping for test, staying calm and carrying on.