Afraid for the midterms on the horizon? Don’t worry. We all stress every now and then when change looms around the corner. Still, you don’t need to panic. It all comes down to how you prepare yourself for your exams. You might not know how to start, but I think I do. I can offer a few —or ten— pieces of advice, and who knows? Maybe you’ll find that one or two or all of them really work for you.
Read on to find the ten best ways to prep for the upcoming midterms.
1. Talk to Your Professors Beforehand
Get in touch with your professors before classes start. They usually leave their emails in your student portal or on the college website for concerned students to reach out. Introduce yourself with the utmost air of professionalism. Ask them any questions you saved up in your notes and felt too shy to ask before. Show them that you care about your course and can do the work it takes to get a good grade. Every decision in college counts for a lot, so make the most of yours.
2. Create a Planner
No, I don’t mean to insult your impeccable memory here. Even if your ability to memorize important dates and events feels photographic, I still suggest keeping a planner. The simple fact comes down to this: midterms will keep you busy. It also helps keep your work plans, extracurriculars, crucial counselor appointments and meetings in check while you need to study. All of it will fill up your day-to-day, and you don’t want to lose track of anything. Believe me, you will need to create a planner.
3. Get All Your Textbooks
It sounds simple enough, but I know plenty of people that don’t order their textbooks until it’s too late, and then they find themselves falling behind for their tests. Remember that tip to ask your professor about the syllabus? Don’t ignore the books there. You might think you can handle just skimming PDFs, but you should prepare for midterms as soon as possible. Get a lot of the work and readings out of the way when you can so you don’t feel overwhelmed the weekend before.
4. Prepare a Study Group
Yes, this means from the very beginning. Simply put, you should just get in touch with friends about forming a study group to keep on hand for when your professor starts handing out those assignments. You don’t even need to attend the same college or classes or anything! To start one, you just need a group of other college students you know that you can meet with at a café or in your living room. Basically, they will help you stay accountable and on top of your big essays and readings.
5. Replenish All Your Pens, Tabs and Binders
You will need all of these. Even if you prefer taking notes on your computer, keep highlighters and tabs on hand. Why? Because you will receive a lot of papers and documents from your professors, which you will need to keep organized in a binder. Some classes will offer an open book midterm. You will need tabs and highlighters to keep track of your thoughts and notes. In other words. Welcome to the world of college, folks, where the digital dies.
6. Consider Your Transportation Options
Seriously, figure this one out as quickly as possible. Will you take the bus? Will you drive? Did you reapply for a parking permit? Would you prefer to park by meter if the parking permit feels too expensive? You can’t put this many questions off and hope to wing the answers. Figure out exactly how you plan on getting to your classes because waiting until the morning of will not work, especially not for exam week. You want to know for sure that you will get to class on time. I can promise you that much.
7. Make Plans to Meet Up with Friends
This one might sound strange, but hear me out. Midterms, even midterms you might end up really acing, can feel super overwhelming. For that reason, I suggest keeping a plan to meet up with friends afterwards. You might do this at the mall, the movies, or even over boba. My point? If you leave classes feeling overwhelmed, don’t let yourself stew in that. At the very least, make a plan to call a friend and vent if you need it.
8. Keep a Support System in Place
This kind of follows my last point except that it covers the entire semester, not just midterm week. Keep a support system in place that you can turn to when classes and assignments and the workload gets difficult. Every single college student gets days when they need someone to cry to or lean on for emotional support. Find a friend, a parent, a sibling or anyone that you feel comfortable talking to. Just keeping that kind of outlet on hand can feel very beneficial.
9. Map Out Your Exams
Just in a general sense, figure out what each exam format will be. Some professors prefer essays, some want you to make a podcast, some only offer multiple-choice tests. You definitely don’t want to miss an assignment because they got jumbled up. This is where the planner comes in handy, and I would suggest color-coding based on classes, too. You will feel a lot more confident if you know what you need to do for each professor.
10. Recognize That There Will be Stressful Moments
Nobody experiences a flawless, stress-free exam week experience. Stress, in fact, comes with the whole college-kid resume. You will get essays that feel like they take too long to finish. You will get readings you don’t really connect to. You will get an assignment that feels impossible. You will get stressful days, days when everything seems too hard, days that you need to trudge through. That will happen, and for own sake, you need to recognize that it’s just part of the deal. Luckily though, that also means that you will get days that feel easier, days that you understand the material better than most, days that make the tougher days seem not so bad in retrospect. In the words of Hannah Montana, you’ll get the best of both worlds.
There you go. Ten pieces of advice that may or may not work for you. If you feel anxious about what will come during the fall, try one or two of these of these tips. See if any of them really help. If they do, keep at it. If not, try something else. Everyone keeps their own method for dealing with the stress of midterms. What matters most falls to the fact that eventually, you will find your footing and that the exam will end.