midterm study tips

Midterms can be extremely stressful for students who are stricken with performance anxiety right before taking a test. For that matter, midterms can be stressful to any student who has not properly prepared to tackle them. With midterm exams coming up regularly (and even more often in an accelerated degree program), there is no better time to review some study tips that should help you come exam time.

Here are a few midterm study tips to help you get over the hump:  

Recall by Association

While studying, chew a certain flavor gum, or wear a certain cologne or perfume. Wear the same cologne or perfume or begin chewing the same flavor gum right before test time. Your brain will associate the scent or taste with the flags that went up in your brain when you were forming memorization devices about the material while using that particular product. Try it on a test beforehand to see how truly effective this method is!

By its nature, this concept can be executed in a variety of different ways. Some individuals are more sensitive to taste than to smell or vice versa. While studying you could even set up your study space to resemble that in which you will be taking the test. When you do find something that works, stick with it. The brain processes similarities between variables with much more ease than it does differences, so tweaking your study habits may ultimately be more effective than scrapping them and incorporating entirely new techniques into your study tool box.

Walk Away & Refuel

Many students believe that the longer they study something, the better chance they have of retaining it. Believe it or not, the opposite is true. The brain can only stay on a topic for so long.

Take a break and walk it in. That’s right. Allowing your brain to migrate restores it, much like a quick fill up at a gas station makes it possible for a car to travel another few hundred miles. Also, when we walk, our brain releases endorphins and our brain wave activity increases. We need increased brain wave activity in order to process similarities between things, to compartmentalize and to make something stick. If associations between concepts were presented as flags, increased brain waves would be the pulleys we use to hoist and lock them into place.

When you start counting crumbs on your desk instead of studying, it may be time for a quick hike down to the cafeteria. Avoid simple sugars (cookies, soda, etc.) in your attempt to bounce back quickly, as ingesting simple sugars will inevitably result in a hard crash (what goes up must come down...way down), and regardless of your study method, you are not likely to retain much of anything when all your brain wants to do is either sleep or fire down another candy bar. 

Use the Buddy System

If studying alone is good, studying with a partner and testing each other on the material periodically is even better. Using the buddy system, you can bounce ideas off of each other, affording you more opportunities to associate question and answer. Also, stress plays into your capacity to process come test time. Even if your study buddy is taking their test across the room, you know that you can rely upon your interactions to help you pull through. There is a level of comfort that goes along with a study buddy gently guiding you toward the right answer, even if they are only doing it in your imagination!

Join a Study Group

People often avoid study groups because everyone learns at a different pace, and everyone uses different mnemonic devices to help them memorize facts. Since everyone processes things differently, study groups can get confusing, but emerging from the chaos there remains a constant...everyone is talking about the same thing, which essentially tells your brain ‘hey, this is important!’  

Prioritizing important information is usually a matter of the brain recognizing the degree of its importance so that it can build facts around a concept rather than building a concept from facts.

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