Published: Feb. 6, 2023

A student sitting on the ground by a tree and studyingFor many students, midterms are just around the corner. Here are some underrated study hacks 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 cover. Skim the chapter, note headings and bold words, review chapter summaries and have questions prepared for the lecture.
  • Attend class—take notes and ask questions.
  • Review your notes as soon as possible after class.
  • Schedule 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? By taking this learning style quiz, you can find the best methods to learn and study. Here are some strategies that may work for your learning style.

  • Visual: Underline or highlight your notes. Look for videos, graphs or charts to further review information. Create 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 senses as possible when studying. For example, try taking a walk while reviewing your notecards.

Take breaks

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.

Get creative and try a new approach

Here are some other study hacks to try:

  • Pretend you're preparing to teach a class on the subject. Think of how you could explain the material to fellow students.
  • Think about concepts more critically 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 and use your resources.

Sometimes the hardest part of studying is just getting started. Schedule time in your week to study and do your best to stay on track. Find a favorite place to study, 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.