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Midterm Survival Guide

Midterms are the wicked stepmother to finals. They're sprung upon you in the middle of the semester, generally sporadically without permanent dates like the ones given during finals week. There may or may not be proper review sessions for them and there is a good chance that you might not be feeling very motivated around week eight or nine of your semester.

Here are some of my older posts about studying tips or how to handle finals week:
+ Finals Week: Crunch Time
+ Studying Tips
+ How to Study in College

I had my first "midterm" last week, which was a little earlier than most, but that's just how my Latin American Society and Culture class is set up. However, I have a midterm for my Broadcast and Interactive Media class in the coming weeks, so I'll be using these studying bits that I used for my Spanish exam to study for that.

1. Digital and physical review sheets

For my Spanish class, we were given a long list of terms, places, people, and events that we needed to know for the exam. I went through and typed them all into a word document. Slowly but surely, I went through all of the supplementary reading and Powerpoints and filled out the study guide in my word document so I could always have a copy on me.

1b. Flashcards

There's no doubt in my mind that I would have failed this exam had I not decided, on a whim, to make flashcards for this exam. I used my digital worksheet to create the cards. I wrote the general term on the front and everything else on the you normally would for a flashcard...

I digress, the first few times, I would go through and read the definition side first and try to guess the term on the back. Once I got comfortable with  all of the definitions, I would switch and read the term side first, trying to spout off as much as I could at the top of my head. Switching back and forth between reading definitions or giving definitions is a really great way to make sure that you're actually learning and retaining the material, rather than memorizing key words to trigger the term (which hurts you when you have to give the definition on a test rather than match it to the correct term).

2. Timelines

This serves more towards history classes, I'm sure, but writing out timelines with details of births, deaths, important periods of time, and events keeps your terms organized chronologically. It also gives you another excuse to rewrite what's going to be on the exam. One of the biggest memorization and learning techniques is to rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite some more. 

3. Out of the room and away from the computer

Once I have my physical copy of the study guide printed out and the flashcards made, I try to get as far away from the comfort of my room as I can. I'll leave my laptop, try to leave my cell phone, and just disconnect from everything so I can focus solely on my work. Even moving from my bedroom out to the living room is beneficial to my studying process. The change in scenery and lack of distractions really let's me focus in on trying to broaden my knowledge and commit everything I need to know to memory.

Along with studying techniques, there are definitely a few items that I must have with me while I'm studying for massive exams like midterms (or any exam, really).

Do you have midterms? What's your number one preparation must have?


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