Time and time again I’ll be reading some poor student’s blog or twitter feed and what I see is basically this: “OMG my exam is tomorrow gotta study all night omg omg I’m so freaked out my brain is exploding!”
More or less, anyway.
Now, I am not a crammer. I’ve never done it, and I very nearly always walk into my exams feeling confident and relatively anxiety-free, at least when I compare myself to those around me. And, most importantly, my marks turn out just like I want to, as evidenced by the scholarships UBC keeps offering me.
What’s my secret? Easy: start studying a week before your test. (At least.) That’s really all there is to it, besides figuring out how you study best. What I do is do about an hour or so of reading for about three days starting a week before the test, so the material is all fresh in my mind. You can’t start memorizing if you can’t even remember what you’ve covered in the last month. After those three days, you do some hard core studying in the next three days (preferably on a weekend). Condensing your notes, guessing and practicing answering questions you think will be on the test, testing yourself. Then, the night before, you get to breathe. Relax. Read over the study notes you made, test yourself a little bit more. What you should find is that as you read over those notes, your brain goes, yes yes, I know this stuff already. And you know why? Digesting information over a longer period of time is going to make it stick way better than if you stuff it all in your head the night before when you’re all stressed out. And, you’ve accomplished what the course is actually about: learning, as opposed to memorizing for one test and then promptly forgetting everything after it’s over.
If you have several midterms a week, it can be easy to focus on one subject and forget about the other tests, and just study for each test as they come. But, if you do an hour or half an hour of studying each day for each subject a week before the exam, you’ll know your stuff better, and have less work overall the night before each test.
A bonus for using this method: now you have great study notes for when finals come around! Not to mention, you’ll remember more of the material from your midterm when it comes time to write that final exam.
I hope this helps you through your time of midterms!