Midterm Study Tips

The university lifestyle tends to challenge your ability to adapt to new environments and alter your strategies on the go. Here are some resources that may help you throughout your journey!

Plan Out Your Study Schedule

A huge part of exam success comes before the studying even happens. Planning out which topics you’re going to tackle or what work you need to get done every day is a great way to stay on track and maintain focus. It also helps divide the workload evenly across the week so that you still have some free time to yourself. If you give yourself too much to do every single day, you will eventually burn out. Make sure to add optimal breaks, plans to meet up with your friends, and time for hobbies! Mental health is just as, if not more important than the grades you receive.


Don’t Wait Too Long to Review Lecture Material

You shouldn’t wait until the week before your exam to review the previous material. Make sure you review what you’ve learned in class when you get home, during breaks, or even the day after. The longer you wait between the class lecture and the first initial review, the more time you will have to spend “relearning”. It doesn’t have to be a full-on review, even a quick skim while summarizing the main points is better than leaving it for the next week. Maybe even go through a quick flashcard deck (more on this later) for 10-15 minutes.

Consistency is Key

You might have heard “spaced repetition” being thrown around on the internet, and for a good reason. This concept ties back to the first point; you want to plan out your schedule such that you’re doing some studying every day, but not too much. The emphasis is on consistency throughout the term, not on the amount you do per day. It is better to study 30 minutes every day throughout the term, than 8+ hours a day during the last week before the exam. By spacing out your review, you will not only save time, but you remember things better by doing so.


Pay Close Attention to The Learning Objectives

Certain courses may have assigned readings from selected textbooks. You do not need to read everything word for word. The beginning of each chapter (sometimes it can be at the end) has a set of learning objectives or “takeaways” that the authors expect you to understand after you’ve completed the chapter. You should always read the learning objectives prior to starting the readings as this will prime your brain to pick out the most important information. Make sure to check if your professor specified anything specific that they expect you to know that isn’t covered in the textbook learning objectives; the professors’ learning goals (which are usually found on their lecture slides) always take precedence.


Make Use of Office Hours

Professors always have office hours that they set up at the beginning of the term, and usually make this quite clear in the first lecture. This is your go-to resource when you’ve hit a roadblock and neither you nor your friends can wrap your heads around a concept or practice problem. You can even drop in just to chat, and this is a great way to start building relationships if you want future reference letters for grad school or want to get into research.

Utilize EVERY Resource Provided

The number of resources offered to you will vary between courses, but many provide previous final/midterm exams as practice material as well as optional practice problems. USE ALL OF THEM. Certain courses may also assign practice problems from the back of the textbook, but you should try to do as many as you can, even if it wasn’t assigned. This also gives you more opportunities to make mistakes and problem-solve, which are great reasons to attend office hours.

Create Course-specific Strategies

You should be adapting your strategies depending on the course that you’re studying for. You wouldn’t study for math the same way you review for biology; they simply test different things. For instance, life science-related courses such as biochemistry or biology are usually memorization heavy and/or concept oriented. Thus, you may find it useful to utilize and review flashcards frequently throughout the week or focus on understanding the concepts and the underlying nature of specific mechanisms. Sometimes there is no way around rote memorization (such as biochemical pathways), and you will have to find techniques that work better for you. Practice problems are a great study strategy for courses that heavily focus on problem-solving such as mathematics, and some fields combine both conceptual components and a focus on practice problems/problem solving such as chemistry and physics. Understand how the course is taught and how you’re expected to express your learning and adapt accordingly.

Study With Your Friends

Forming a study group may help boost productivity but it isn’t for everyone. Some prefer to study alone and are more efficient that way. If you enjoy the group setting, forming a study group with your friends or even people you just met in class is a great way to start arranging study sessions together and helps keep you motivated.

Find What Works for You and Get Help When You Need It


Everyone is different, and so no one is expected to study the same way. What works for your friends may not necessarily work for you. The most important part about studying well is experimenting with different strategies and seeing what seems to click with you the most. Try a diverse range of study methods, schedules, and note-taking methods to develop your skills as you progress through your undergraduate years. Of course, if you ever find yourself struggling with academics or have too many things going on for you at once, talk to an advisor, that’s what they’re there for!


Studying is something that changes as you grow and learn from your mistakes. Don’t be upset if it doesn’t click with you at first, and hopefully, these tips will help put you on the right track!

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Author: Aidan Wang
Editor: Celina Macleod