Midterm Mastery: Your Student’s Guide to Stress-Free Exam Prep

Acing Midterms: Smarter, Not Harder

Midterm season often conjures up images of late-night cramming and stress-filled study sessions. But what if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way? With the right strategies from the get-go, acing midterms can be less about the stress and more about strategy. Here’s some practical advice for your student:


The Early Bird Gets the A

The key to midterm success is starting early. Imagine your study material as a garden. If you water it a little every day, you’ll see it flourish come harvest time (a.k.a. exam week). By reviewing class notes daily from the start of the semester, you’re steadily building a strong foundation. By the time midterms arrive, you’ll have a lush garden of knowledge, ready for picking.

Daily Review Tricks: 

  • Spend 15-20 minutes each day going over new material. Download our daily study planner here.
  • Use chunking to break down larger concepts into manageable pieces. 
  • Jot down key concepts in a dedicated midterm prep notebook.
  • Use highlighters or colored pens to categorize and prioritize information.


The Art of Synthesizing Notes

Reading through pages of notes can feel like trying to drink water from a fire hose. But here’s the thing… when you simply re-read your notes, it’s like you’re trying to stay hydrated by staring at a glass of water. To truly drink in the knowledge, you need to engage more actively. This is because re-reading creates an illusion of familiarity, but not deep understanding. The brain easily recognizes the information, tricking you into thinking you’ve mastered it. In reality, this passive form of studying doesn’t effectively strengthen neural connections needed for recall. By synthesizing your notes, you engage with the material in an active, meaningful way; this is the key to moving information from short-term to long-term memory.

Synthesis Strategies:

  • Mind Maps: Visually map out concepts and their connections.
  • Flashcards: Perfect for drilling key terms, dates, and formulas.
  • Cheat Sheets: Condense each topic onto a single sheet, focusing on the essentials.
  • Check out these graphic organizer ideas to help you synthesize your notes as you prep for midterms.


Explain it to a Kindergartener: The Feynman Technique

The Feynman Technique is a powerful tool in your study arsenal. It’s based on the idea that if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough. This method forces you to break down complex concepts into plain language, solidifying your understanding.

Implementing the Feynman Technique:

  1. Choose a Concept: Pick a topic from your notes. It should be a somewhat complex concept you’re having trouble grasping. 
  2. Teach It: Explain it as if you were teaching a young child—if you have a willing participant, it’s best to actually teach it to another person.
  3. Review and Simplify: Identify areas where you struggled to explain clearly and revisit them. Your “student” can also give you feedback on which parts need improvement.


Bonus Tips for Midterm Success

  • Study Groups: Collaborate with peers to challenge and motivate each other.
  • Regular Breaks: During longer study sessions, use the Pomodoro technique to maintain peak mental performance.
  • Healthy Habits: Exercise, sleep, and good nutrition play a crucial role in your brain’s ability to learn and remember.

The Final Countdown

As midterms approach, keep your cool. You’ve laid the groundwork; now it’s just about fine-tuning. Trust in your preparation, stay calm, and remember—you got this. For more resources on helping you ace your upcoming exams, download our Midterm Prep Made Easy student packet here:

By Robert Brundage
Robert is a tutor and Creative Content Manager at Revolution Prep. Off-duty, he enjoys being silly with his daughter, trying out new recipes, and playing board games with his wife and friends.