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A University Student’s Midterm Prep Guide

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There are few times of year more stressful for university students than right before midterms — but it doesn’t need to be that way. With the right preparation, you’ll feel ready to ace your exams. Here are a few practical tips to consider.

Create a Study Schedule

You know that you need to study on a regular basis, but it’s easy to make excuses and procrastinate if you lack a schedule. Note what you’ll study each day and at what time. Be as specific as possible in your study plan to ensure you cover all the topics you’re likely to encounter in your exams.

Sleep Enough

Make sure your schedule accounts for plenty of sleep — it’s impossible to retain knowledge if you’re exhausted. Besides, if you start sticking to a bedtime before your midterms, you’ll find it easier to fall asleep the night before exams, and you’ll wake up feeling refreshed.

Keep a Clear Mind

It’s completely normal to feel anxious about your midterms, but try to keep things in perspective. On the day of your exams, follow a relaxing morning routine to put yourself in the right frame of mind.

Know What the Exam Involves

You’ll feel more anxious about your midterms if you don’t know what to expect. Ask your teachers plenty of questions to make sure you’re clear about what the midterms entail for each of your courses. This includes finding out the format for the exam, how much it contributes to your final grade, and what topics it covers. Your teachers may also be able to give you advice on maximizing your grade, such as through attending review sessions, improving a paper you already wrote, or using a particular study technique.

If you feel uncomfortable asking for clarification in class (although the likelihood is that other students will have the same questions), you can always drop your teachers an email or visit them during office hours.

Use All the Materials You Have

Take advantage of all the worksheets and handouts your teachers have given you. Add to them the notes you’ve taken in class and any tests you’ve taken (particularly if the exam covers material from the semester). Use all of these to refresh your memory, check your understanding of key information, and ensure you avoid making similar mistakes again.

Study in a Group

Preparing with others can be much more effective than studying for your midterms alone. Testing each other with flashcards keeps things interesting, whereas seeing if you can explain concepts to someone else will help determine whether you have a good grasp of the material.

Receive Support from a Tutor

You may benefit from studying with a tutor if you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed. A tutor can explain things in a new way, correct your mistakes, and teach you better study skills.

Design a Different Strategy for Every Subject

Bear in mind that what works for one subject may be ineffective for another. For instance, a study group could be perfect for one class, but you may be better off spending time on your own condensing your notes for another.

Find Various Places to Study

If you’re feeling mentally drained one day and can’t find the motivation to study, switch things up. Instead of using your regular study spot, search for a new place — perhaps a coffee shop, the campus library, or a friend’s apartment.

You’ll be able to study much more easily for your midterms if you live in a comfortable apartment. For University of Waterloo housing, there’s King Street Towers. As well as receiving a private bedroom, you’ll have access to dedicated study spaces, plus 24-hour fitness centres and games rooms for when you need to unwind. Book a tour to see where you could be living.

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