Great news… you have survived the first weeks of college. This is a big feat to be proud of; some students have not made it this far and wished they had.
I encourage you to take an honest look at how you are progressing. Evaluate how you have been spending your time (too much or not enough socializing?), how you study (have you been studying?), and areas where you may be struggling (making friends, studying, taking quizzes). Taking a realistic look at these areas and making adjustments now in October are better than trying to fix it during finals, pulling up a low GPA next semester, or better yet flunking out of school your first semester.
Utilize the resources you have on your campus, to help you be successful. Talk with your RA; they are there to help you and if they cannot help, they know who can. Talk with your professors, get a tutor, or join a study group; if you seek help you are more likely to perform better. Seek counseling; it is normal to get overwhelmed and need to sort things out with someone. Your student fees cover the cost so you might as well utilize the service.
Here are some tips from current RAs on preparing for your midterms:
- Believe it or not, going to class actually helps people perform well on midterms. Some people think they can miss several classes and then show up for the final and pass. If you complete your chapter reading before class the class lecture will be your second or third time processing the information and you have a better chance of understanding it.
- Discover the type of learner you are: kinetic, visual, or auditory. Knowing your style can allow you time to adapt your studying to the style that works best for you. Some people need to make outlines, others make flash cards, and some create songs. Figure out what works best for you and give yourself adequate time to prepare.
- Start early and do not procrastinate. Do not put studying off for the week before the test. Each week you should review the information so it stays fresh in your mind.
- Try to study in groups. Make a study group in the beginning of the semester. Sometimes it is best to hear the same information come from your peers instead of your professor. This makes it easier to see your errors and receive feedback.
- Prioritize your test and to study smart. There is only so much time available to study, make sure you focus on the most important subjects and do not over obsess about the classes that have little to nothing to do with your major. I once focused so hard on my ceramics midterm that I did not focus enough attention on my chemistry midterm. In the end, I was doing fine in ceramics and did not need to devote as much attention to ceramics as I did chemistry.
- Do not study in your room or with friends (classmates are different). Go to a study room, library, or cafe (somewhere with no distractions including your computer and phone) just sit down and immerse yourself in what you are doing. Shut everyone and everything else out, but then every hour take a five-minute break to get up and do something else, then come back and focus on studying.
- STAY OFF of Facebook, avoid Twitter, do not get wrapped up in a Law and Order Marathon, or give attention to any other guilty pleasure you may have. It is easy to be sucked in and not focus on studying.
- The night before a test, get a good night sleep and then wake up eat breakfast and go over all of your notes again as a quick refresher.
Here are more tips from current RAs to consider while taking your midterms:
- When taking a test, turn your phone off. If it accidentally goes off you will distract the entire room and your attention will be focused on the call versus the information for the test.
- Be confident! Trust that you know the information and do not talk yourself out of a correct answer.
- Relax! Take a deep breath, pace yourself, and try to remain calm. Rub your eyes and/or your neck gently, smooth, and with a little pressure. Why? Because it lowers your heart rate intended to calm you down.
- Never leave an answer blank. You have a chance of guessing right instead of getting an answer wrong because you left it blank. Scan through the rest of the test for any clues or hints to what the answer may be.
- Double-check your exam. Go back through your answers and make sure you have the answer you believe is correct. This is will also ensure you have reviewed your essay/short answers, did not skip an answer, answer a question on the wrong line, or discovered an answer later in the test.