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Five practical tips for getting through midterm exams

It’s that time of the year again – when your heart is pounding, your head is spinning, and your stress levels are skyrocketing. All you want to do is just get some rest, but there’s a million tests waiting
for you at school. No, I’m not talking about finals week ... Rather, it is midterms week.

With so many schools’ midterm schedules already underway,
here are a few quick tips to help you ace your tests!

1

Study, study, study – but study smart

This is the No. 1 rule to follow for taking any test, no matter what score you’re aiming for. It’s no use to bore yourself by reading your notes over and over again for three hours straight. Instead, study smart. This includes making flashcards for vocabulary, practicing essay writing, taking past tests, or making up funny mnemonics to remember key concepts.

2

Don’t lose out on sleep

Sleep is another important thing to emphasize. UCLA’s Sleep Disorders Center found the average teen needs about nine hours of sleep each night to feel alert during each day. To most of us, that may be a stretch; after all, as high school students, we have school, sports, community service, music, clubs, and other extracurricular activities in our day, so it’s almost impossible to fit in a solid nine hours of rest. However, despite our busy schedules, sleep is crucial for academic success. And whatever you do, try to refrain from pulling an all-nighter!

3

Never, ever cram

Cramming is a technique that a lot of students like to use. However, it’s hardly beneficial in the long run. According to the American Psychological Association, psychology professor Katherine Rawson, Ph.D., from Kent State University explains why it’s bad to cram. "The problem is that it’s horrible for long-term retention. Students don’t realize that they’re really undercutting their own learning." With cramming, not only are you losing out on sleep, you’re also making yourself even more tired than before. This makes it easier for the brain to forget this or that little detail that could potentially be on the test.

4

When studying, chuck your phone away

OK, maybe not quite literally. Nevertheless, while studying, it’s best to put phones and other distractions as far away as possible. We’ve all been guilty of things like checking our Snapchats, scrolling through Instagram, or texting someone when we really should’ve been using that time more efficiently. A 2013 American Time Use survey collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found the average American high school student spends 2.3 hours on media/communications during weekdays, but 4.3 hours during the weekends. 4.3 hours on social media may not seem like much, but that’s about one-sixth of your day! Using some of that time to study instead can have a huge impact on how well you do on your exams.

5

Believe in yourself

To some people, tests can be nerve-racking, especially when you’re required to remember half the year’s material for midterms. This last tip before you take your midterms is to make sure you enter the testing room with the right mindset and ample self-confidence. If you’ve prepared well for a test, then you know your efforts will pay off when you see the score. Finally, good luck!

And for those who don’t have any midterms, lucky you! Take the time off to enjoy the break from school. Even so, it’s never too late to start preparing for finals.

Sharon Luo is a sophomore at Williamsville East High School.

 

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