Don’t let the glitter and glitz of the holiday season distract you too much! Midterm exams are fast approaching in January, and while it’s good to celebrate the holidays, you should start preparing for exams as well. According to Psychology Today, “spacing the learning over many shorter sessions is much more effective than trying to do it all in one big session”. Here are five reasons why you should start your studying now
1. Studying for midterms in bits and over time helps you learn.
Don’t let the urge to put off studying for midterms overtake you. Even though it may be hard to sit for fifteen minutes a day practicing your French verbs while your friends go out holiday shopping, studying a little bit every day over a longer time is much more effective for both remembering and truly learning.
“Pacing [one;s studying] improves later recall, without requiring students to put in more overall study effort or pay more attention, dozens of studies have found”, so wrote journalist, Benedict Carey in The New York Times.
2. You have time to make a midterm study plan and gather your materials.
By now, your teachers should have a good idea of what will be on upcoming tests or midterms. But unless you know what will be in the test, you can’t study for it. Therefore, it’s up to you to find out.
Make sure you touch base with your teachers before the break to determine where you should be spending your time studying during your time off. If any of the midterm topics are confusing to you at this point, now is the time to ask your teacher(s), schedule yourself to spend more time with the material, or get help.
When you sit down to review and start to study for your midterm exams, ensure you have all your materials. You’ll need past assignments, in-class work, past tests, and quizzes. Make sure you’ve done the required reading and have corresponding notes. Pay special attention to the areas your teacher spent extra time on in class.
In your planner, write out your study plan for each night (or most nights) between now and your midterm exams. Plan to spend about 10 to 15 minutes daily on each subject. While you certainly don’t have to break out the history book during New Year’s Eve celebrations, if you make an advance study plan, you will certainly be thanking yourself later.
3. You can (and should) become an expert on what you already know
You know that pulling an all-nighter to learn every single aspect of the French Revolution the night before an exam won’t work as well as if you break that one all-nighter up into many twenty-minute study sessions.
But what if you think you already know the material? You still shouldn’t put off studying. Instead, keep reviewing what you think you already know. Just as athletes or musicians practice basic routines to achieve perfection, a student must do the same to master academic material.
Over-learning information so that it becomes automatic is the best way to ace a quiz, test, or exam. You may even surprise yourself by making new connections with the material, or thinking about a topic more deeply over time. The more you go over the material you have to know for your midterm, or any test, the more likely you are to remember it when the actual piece of paper is put in front of you at test-taking time.
4. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress if you prepare in advance.
Would you rather spend the night before your midterm exam anxiously going over everything you’ve covered this semester, hoping to remember it all the next day; or reviewing the material you’ve been studying for the past month, and getting a full night of sleep?
Getting to your exam with a calm, well-rested mind can help you ace it. A lot of the exams you will have don’t require just pure memorization, but thinking as well. Quality thoughts can only be produced with a clear mind. And procrastination, leading to the ultimate last-minute cram session, cannot produce a clear mind. You’ll find that it is a lot harder to write an essay on the causes of Gatsby’s downfall when you stayed up until 3:00 that morning.
5. Final exams will be less stressful too.
Final-hour cramming will not make you learn or even help you to remember the material for the midterm. If don’t study over the long term, you won’t remember for the long term. This will become a problem when it’s time to move on to the second half of the year’s curriculum, and your grades may suffer. Truly learn the material now, and set a good foundation for the terms ahead.
Procrastination may seem like an attractive choice for your midterm studying strategy, especially when the exam isn’t right at your doorstep and holiday fun beckons. But it isn’t that hard to space out your studying, either! Through short study sessions spaced out over the next six weeks or so, you will not only be able to learn the material better for your midterm exams, but for future tests to come.
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