How to Stay Organized During Midterms

Staying organized during midterms can mean the difference between getting the best grade you can and missing your goal entirely. It’s not only important to think about what you need to study, but how and when you need to fit studying in among other activities – like sports, clubs, or a job. Keep your academic (and personal) life sane and structured as you move into midterm season to help maximize your scores on these important tests. Here are some pointers for how to stay organized during midterms:

1. Start studying for midterms early

It’s not in your best interest to crack open your textbook the week of the test. Your midterm exam likely encompasses half of your course’s material, and you didn’t you learn that material over a few days’ time – it took weeks. Instead, review your notes as you go along in the course, making sure that you understand each concept before moving on to new material. Beginning two or more weeks before midterms, review the material that will appear on the exam. Since you’ll have already learned the material during your first pass through, this review will reinforce the material and help you to master it as you move toward the midterm.

2. Make a midterm study schedule

Mastering half a semester’s worth of material can seem daunting, especially if you have multiple midterms. A month before your midterms, sit down and plot out how the next four weeks will go. Cycle through your subjects as you study, making sure that you balance studying for midterms with the coursework expected of you leading up to the exams. For example, you could plan to review chapters one and two of biology and practice simplifying polynomials for your Algebra class on Monday night, review two novels for your English exam and study for your biology quiz on Tuesday, and catch up on math assignments and write an English essay on Wednesday. Balance is key, and plotting out a schedule can help you achieve that balance.

3. Make lists of questions, problems, and topics

Keeping lists of questions you have, problems you can’t solve, and even topics you already know and don’t need to revisit can prevent you from wasting time and allow you to budget more time for difficult topics. Keeping a list of questions and problems you still have can make meeting with a tutor for help before the exam more productive, as you’ll be able to exclusively focus on problem areas without having to waste time. Keep your lists somewhere close to your study space, and make two lists for each subject: “things you know” and “things you need to study.”

4. Get into a study routine

Designating time each day for midterm studying can help prevent cramming later on. As you make your study schedule, make sure to incorporate specific time (separate from other homework and academic obligations) in which you will hold yourself accountable for preparing for your midterm. Start with as little as an hour each day a month before the exams, and progressively increase your time spent preparing for midterms as they approach. Making time to study can help keep you focused on midterms without being weighed down by the other responsibilities in your life.