Cracking the Code of Midterm Success

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The first few weeks of school flew by and all of the sudden, you’re looking at a stacked schedule for midterms. Here’s the breakdown of what to expect:


No multiple-choice quizzes here, which is great for some people but terrible for those who procrastinate until the last night to write a paper. Best advice: start early. No matter how large your paper might be, it’s achievable if you break it down into little steps over several days, even a week. Doing so will keep the momentum going, your stress levels down, and will likely increase the potency of your paper. Not to mention, professors are always impressed when you turn in a paper early. Also, getting friends to read your papers is a good idea. Sometimes it’s hard to notice when you are being unclear about certain points even though it ‘all makes sense in your head.’  Having a second set of eyes will clarify things. In the end it will feel good to turn in a paper that you know will get a high grade.


It is almost a guarantee that you will have a traditional test. As a college student, you are probably familiar with the conventional method of studying: reread old notes, look at stuff in the book you are a little unsure of, maybe make a few flashcards and hope for the best. For this midterm, try to do things a little differently. Go to office hours and ask a lot of questions. Then go home and look through your notes and books. Create a mock-up for what the test would look like with questions (and answers) related to your material. Then, bring it to your professor’s office hours and ask them again. Your professor will be so impressed that they will likely go over your test (and essentially, the real test) to help you out.

Professor’s Advice:

“Students often think that a longer answer on tests will get them a better grade. In theory, each question [on my tests] can be answered in a sentence or two. Answers from students who write concisely will be favorably graded while long, wordy, jargon; nonspecific answers will be unfavorably graded.”

Professor Welsh > Biology > Villanova


The business world is built around the interaction of people and the relationships that are developed; these become the foundation of a business enterprise. Reflect this in your studies by getting groups together for study sessions. Hearing other students’ approaches can be eye opening, and can get all of you higher grades. Take the initiative, you’ll be happy you did.

Professor’s Advice:

“As a business professor, I look to see how students approach questions oftentimes more than the answer. Knowing the strength of a student’s logic is very telling. I’d advise students to keep this in mind when answering a seemingly very difficult question,”

Professor Chirlanzel > Management > University of Wisconsin

Fine Arts

There might be a desire to go outside the box and do something wild, something innovative and unique. While this may turn out to be something truly remarkable, you also run the risk of falling flat when it comes time to put a letter grade on your project in relation to the class. Professors look for mastery of what the course is teaching (often, the basics). Make sure you cover the basics before going on to sculpt your masterpiece. Both you and your teacher will appreciate your well rounded project in the end.

What Should You Take Away?

 The worst part about midterms is that they seem to creep up on you and then pounce at the last minute. They leave you stressed out and racing against time to be prepared, oftentimes erring on the side of going into a test unprepared or turning in something that really could’ve used more time. Don’t let that be you-plan ahead so that you have time to study as well as time to have fun. Two hours of study each day versus pulling an all nighter the day before the deadline will do wonders for you mental and physical states, but most importantly, your grade. Go get ‘em.  

Georgetown University

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