For many students, midterms are just around the corner. Here are some underrated study hacks you can try to help you ace your midterms.
Practice the study cycle
The “study cycle” is an effective strategy that can help you be more efficient with your time.
There are four steps to the cycle:
Before class, preview the material you’ll be covering. Skim the chapter, note headings and bold words, review chapter summaries and have questions prepared for lecture.
Attend class—take notes and ask questions.
Review your notes as soon as possible after class.
Schedule out time in your week to study the material again. Review your notes, handouts or other readings.
Know your learning style
Are you a visual learner? Do you remember things more when you hear them? Find out your learning style—visual, aural, read/write or kinesthetic—by taking this learning style quiz. Depending on your style, here are some strategies that may work for you.
Visual: Underline or highlight your notes. Look for videos, graphs or charts to further review information. Create your own graphs or charts to organize information.
Aural: Read your notes out loud and record them on your phone to listen to later. Talk over concepts with a classmate or study group.
Read/write: Rewrite your notes. Look for other books or resources on the same subject to read.
Kinesthetic: Think of real-world examples when reviewing your notes. Try to use as many of your senses as you can when studying, or talking a walk while reviewing your notecards.
Taking short breaks during study sessions can help you stay more focused and retain information better. Try the Pomodoro Technique to build short breaks into your study sessions:
Choose a task to work on—maybe it’s reading a chapter, writing the intro for a paper or solving math problems.
Set a timer for 25 minutes. Put your phone away and eliminate as many distractions as possible.
Focus on the task until the timer goes off.
Set your timer for five minutes and do whatever you’d like during this time. Check your phone, get a snack, stretch—whatever gives your brain a break!
Reset your timer for 25 minutes and repeat.
Try new things
Study by acting like you're preparing to teach a class on the subject. Think of how you could explain the material to fellow students.
Think about concepts in a more critical way and try to create examples or practice problems from the material to test your knowledge.
Rather than studying one subject for a large chunk of time, try switching between subjects in one window of time to allow your brain to form connections and understand the content more deeply.
Study in testing conditions. Learning the content in a similar setting and with similar conditions to your testing environment can help you form associations between those conditions and the course content.
Ask for help
If you’re stuck on a problem or a concept discussed in class, ask for help. Ask a classmate, visit office hours or a help lab. Consider joining or starting a study group. And take advantage of other free resources. If you live on campus or are a first-year student, check out the Academic Success & Achievement Program (ASAP) for free tutoring support. If you need help writing a paper, visit The Writing Center. If you have a big research project, University Libraries offers consultations to help you get started. Review more academic resources for students.
Sometimes the hardest part of studying is just getting started. Schedule out time in your week to study and do your best to get started right away. Find a favorite place that can become your study spot, like a coffee shop, library or community room in your residence hall. Establishing study routines and finding the right study spot can help you feel prepared for midterms.