Whenever we even think about taking midterms or finals, stress tends to make its way into our thoughts. Especially if it’s the day before your midterm. Especially if you have more than one big test. Don’t panic— there are some awesome (and easy) ways to prep for your tests.
To ensure you are most prepared for your test, start studying a week before, NOT the night before. Also, get organized before you start studying. Organization leads to a clearer mind and less stress.
Before you start studying, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I know which topics the test will cover? If yes, write them down. If no, ask your teacher.
- Are there any clarifications I need from my teacher? Anything I need to be explained again?
- Who do I know who wants to start a study group?
- Is there any homework or reading I still need to do?
- What information seems most important?
- Is there a study guide? If yes, use it! If no, make your own.
- How can I break this into smaller sections? Tip within a tip: Make yourself a calendar and a study plan. Decide beforehand what you should cover each night.
- What is the best location for me to study?
Time to start studying!
Now that you have discovered what to study and decided when to cover it, you are ready to start. Here are some more tips for when you’re actually studying:
- Start with your old tests, quizzes, and notes. Pay careful attention to anything you got wrong the first time.
- When you feel comfortable with the material, ask yourself— Can I explain the material to someone else? Can I solve the problems and answer questions without looking at my notes?
- Don’t skip out on sleep. Having a good night’s rest is more beneficial than you may think. Pulling an all-nighter to study may seem helpful at the moment, but when you take your test, the sleepiness will distract you.
- Stay positive! Test anxiety and stress are very real things. Having a plan, being organized, and staying focused are easy ways to prevent stress.
- If possible, study in the room you plan to take your test.
On the day of, try to relax. Have a quiet morning with a healthy breakfast and make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before! When it comes to the actual test, depending on the type of question, there are strategies to make sure you do your best.
Multiple Choice Test
- Answer questions in your head before looking at possible answers. This helps eliminate wrong answers.
- Mark questions you aren’t sure of and come back later.
- If you have no idea, eliminate any wrong answers and guess between the most logical.
- Pay attention to words in the questions such as “all,” “most,” “never,” “sometimes,” and “rarely.” We tend to skim the questions and miss these words. These words indicate extremes and are most often false.
Open Book Tests
- Don’t be fooled! These tests are sometimes the most challenging. Study as you would if this test were not open book.
- Be cautious of your time, don’t get stuck trying to find one answer and run out of time before answering easier questions.
- Mark important pages in your textbook before the test.
- Answer the easiest questions first.
- Plan the amount of time you can spend on each question.
- Structure your answers by including an introduction with a thesis, congruent body, and a conclusion that reinforces your thesis.
- Answer all the questions, even if you are running out of time and don’t know the answer.
- Be neat and legible! If your professor can’t read it, they can’t grade it.
- Write down any formulas, equations, and rules before you begin.
- Work out the easiest problems first and make sure you show all your work.
- Check your answers after you finish Make sure they seem reasonable and double check for accuracy. Review formulas, symbols and terms.
If you focus and make a plan for your test, you are already one step closer to obtaining a better grade. If you would like some outside help, the Academic Success Center is a free resource available to Augusta University students.
“Some students find anxiety gets in their way, even when they are well prepared,” Amanda Gustafson, of the Academic Success Center, said. “Students can make appointments with me and other ASC peer mentors to work on anxiety management and test prep.”