How to Succeed Taking Midterms

It’s about that time again — midterms. Freshmen experience the stress of upper school exams for the first time while seniors say goodbye to midterms forever…or at least until they enter college next fall.

“I’m so nervous for my midterms this year because unlike last year, we have to take a midterm in every class. It’s so hard trying to find time to study for everything,” freshman Evans McCook said.

As students struggle to climb out from under a semester’s worth of new material, reviews, and study guides, the burden of exams may appear impossible to overcome.

Yet in spite of it all, most of us manage to survive. So how exactly do students succeed taking midterms?

Teachers and upperclassmen have given and taken exams many times and know the tricks to succeeding. It always takes a year or two for students to really master the art of midterms.

Seniors Sean Grossnickle and Ginny Lane Sheridan said that the best place to start in studying for midterms is by looking at what their teachers have tested before.

“To prepare for exams I usually look at old test, go to review sessions at school and study on my own time,” Grossnickle said.

“If I could give the lowerclassmen one piece of advice it would be to actually use the test the teachers get back because we all know they like to pull questions off old tests,” Sheridan said.  “I’ve found studying old tests to be most helpful, and also the study guides the teachers give you. The study guides help you get organized on all the information you’ll need to know.”

While we may think our teachers want us to fail — or at least to make our lives miserable right up to Christmas Eve.

“I encourage my students to bring a cot to the library, cancel all their social engagements, and pray that their brains will not explode,” Senior Humanities teacher Nancy Todd said without apparent sarcasm.

But teachers are on our side, and want us to do well on these exams by offering study guides and other help.  You should use those materials to the fullest advantage.

“I give my students a list of everything I’ve taught — all the concepts. I don’t hold a single study session and I don’t use class time to go over anything because I’m available every single day in tutorial,” English teacher Dr. Frank Katz said.  “I tell my students don’t bother going back and rereading anything we’ve covered, just figure out how to apply any of the concepts to anything we’ve read and they’ll do fine.”

And while you are staying up all night studying for that Senior Humanities midterm — typing up all five of those brilliant essays and wondering whether it’s not too late to drop out of high school entirely and move to Aruba — you may start to wonder how much all of this counts for anyway.

For most courses, midterms are important, but not make-or-break.  Remember that teachers already have a semester’s worth of other tests and homework from you, and they will balance what you did during the year against your grade on that exam — for better or worse.

“Midterms count significantly but not so much that they can wreck or rescue someone  by themselves,” Katz said.

“They are not that important to me because I know as long as my grade is solid before taking the exam then I will be fine,” Sheridan said.

But that does not mean to skip out on studying to do a little early holiday shopping.

“To me midterms are pretty important. It’s a big chunk of your grade in most classes so I always do my best on them,” Grossnickle said.