Studying for Midterms: Strategies for Success
Unfortunately, it’s that time of year again where we start to stress, feel a little overwhelmed, and underestimate how much we really know. Don’t worry; you’re not the only one. In this time of craziness, there are many ways that you can become prepared to tackle these midterms!
Start to figure out what you have to accomplish. I like to write a to-do list of all the midterms that I have to prepare for, and then gather my notes for each course. Once, I have all my resources, I start with one course and work my way through all the course notes and readings, highlighting all the information that I think is important and might show up on the midterm. After you have completed this step with all of your courses, the fun begins and it is time to test yourself on how much you really know!
Flashcards are a popular way of studying for midterms. Most students will generally write down key terms on a flashcard and their definition on the back. Try only writing terms/concepts that you do not fully understand to save yourself time and to get the most out of studying. Test yourself daily with the terms until you fully understand them.
Bloom’s taxonomy is a ranking of learning goals that I learned in my Concurrent Education classes and also something I use when I study. Most of the time when students study they generally use their “lower order thinking skills (LOTS).” These LOTS include: Knowledge, Comprehension and Application. However, if you want to be VERY prepared for your midterms, you want to use your “higher order thinking skills (HOTS).” These HOTS include: Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation. Rather than trying to memorize “facts,” try to test your knowledge on the material with HOTS.
- Analysis: Try to separate your notes into component parts by distinguishing important facts the professor would probably test you on; debate certain concepts that have different perspectives; construct diagrams to organize your information; find the significance of certain concepts and relate the concepts to the world and your own life.
- Synthesis: Try to put the information of the course together by comparing concepts, proposing new ideas on the information, and organizing the information into different categories of similarities and differences.
- Evaluation: Try to consider the purpose of the material you have learned, predict the reality or future of the concepts, or evaluate the worth of an idea.
Breaking down Concepts
With this activity you will need a stack of sticky notes. You will look at an individual topic and identify and generate ideas about the concept and write them on sticky notes. Afterwards, organize the sticky notes into categories within the concept to find common themes.
Summarize the Professor’s Lectures
Look through all the lectures given by the professor that will be covered on the midterm. Try to examine the lecture notes and summarize the lecture in a couple of sentences. Ask yourself, “What did I learn from this lecture?” “Why did the professor give this lecture (what was the purpose)?” “What course objectives did the professor accomplish in this lecture?”
Predict Possible Test Questions
Look through your lectures, course notes, and readings to determine certain questions the professor might ask on the midterm. This strategy will allow you to be prepared by looking at the midterm from the professor’s perspective and allow you to identify the most important information.
If you like studying in groups, this strategy is for you! Divide your study group into pairs and assign each group a problem/concept that the group needs more clarification on. Once the concept is assigned, use your textbooks and lecture notes, to brainstorm as much detail as possible on a piece of chart paper. Afterwards, show your thought process by sharing your work with the whole group and join in a discussion to make sense of the concept together as a group.
I hope these tips will help you succeed in your midterms! Remember that time management, organization, and critically analyzing your notes will help you become very prepared for your midterms!