How to Study for Multiple Midterms in College


Having to study for multiple college midterms is undeniably nerve wracking and stressful, but it’s also doable. With the right study approach, planning, and organization, you’ll not only get through this in one piece, you’ll get the grade you deserve, instead of letting test anxiety affect the outcome. You can turn that total freak-out scenario into grace under pressure.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Planner
  • Calendar
  • Note cards
  • Highlighter
  • Sticky tabs
  • 3-Ring binder
  • Folders
  • Nutritious food
  • Create a list of all of the midterms you have scheduled. Write the time and date of each on a calendar and in your planner.

  • Prioritize the courses according to the amount you need to study on each and when the midterm is during the week. For instance, if you have a biology midterm on Monday and you feel you need to thoroughly study the diagrams and terminology, studying for that should come before tackling the info for your Wednesday sociology midterm.

  • Assign a certain amount of study time for each class on the days of the week leading up to the midterms and write it down in your planner. For example, Monday’s schedule may be 8:00 to 9:00 take biology midterm, 9:00 to 9:15 coffee break, 9:15 to 10:15 study for Tuesday’s psychology midterm, 10:15 to 10:30 break, 10:30 to 11:30 philosophy class.

  • Get organized and gather your study materials. Avoid spending valuable study time searching for your stuff when you have multiple courses to study. Utilize a 3-ring binder with folders for all of your handouts and notes. Implement some highlighters, note cards and sticky tabs.

  • Work in chunks. Study one subject for a half hour, take a quick 5- or 10- minute break and hit the books again. Sam Houston State University points out that the average attention span is approximately 20 minutes. Avoid wasting time studying for hours on end without a break, as you may just start doodling or shooting paper clips via a rubber band.

  • Stay physically active. For example, if you need to refresh your memory of your Italian vocab list or calculus formulas, write them on note cards and study them while you take a walk around campus. Put your biology diagrams in front of you while you run on the treadmill. Getting your body moving will get the blood pumping and possibly improve memory.

  • Keep up with your regular eating and sleeping regimen. Have a nutritious breakfast and carry some quick snacks in your backpack, like granola bars and trail mix, for between midterms or classes. Get at least 6 hours of sleep the night before each of your midterms to refresh your mind and body for the mental and physical stress midterms week can bring.

  • Focus on the task at hand and only worry about one midterm at a time. For example, if you’re about to take your psychology midterm, don’t let your mind wander to your philosophy midterm, at least not until you’re done with the psych exam.

  • Take a quick look at your note cards and notes right before you take each midterm. As you do so, take slow, deep breathes and tell yourself that you’ll do great. Use positive self-talk right before each midterm.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make it a regular practice to study notes shortly after the learning takes place. This helps improve memory and understanding of the material.
  • Your study space should be quiet, well-lit and uncluttered. Get rid of any distractions.
  • Save the partying and celebrating for after all of the midterms are completed.

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