Langsam Library

Electrical engineering graduate student Shashank Ranganath does his schoolwork in a corner of Langsam on Friday February 3, 2017.

As the first half of the semester comes to a close, the feeling of being closer to the finish line is trumped by midterms.

With the stress of trying to survive a global pandemic added into the mix, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by the pressure of exams. This semester, don't lock yourself in a room, staring at notes for hours. Instead, change your study habits with these five tips that will help you ace your midterm exams.

Start with a game plan 

Benjamin Franklin once said, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." Before drowning in your notes, make a schedule allotting study time for each subject based on your confidence in the material. This way, you can focus on more challenging classes while fitting in the others without time running out on you.

For each class, you can make a list of topics to be covered on the exam, being sure to highlight concepts you find difficult to grasp. Doing this will allow you to concentrate on what you actually need to study versus information you already know.

Keep your phone out of sight 

Having your phone near you while studying allows for increased distractions. Even if it's silenced or overturned, merely having your phone within your reach can be tempting, as it has been proven that this can result in a small, but statistically significant, impairment of an individuals' cognitive capacity.

While studying, put your phone in a desk drawer or the other room to avoid the urge to check your messages or scroll through TikTok. If you have Apple products that allow your phone notifications to pop up on your laptop or watch, disable this feature to maximize concentration.


The Feynman Learning Technique suggests that pretending to teach a concept to a child using simplified language can help one identify holes in their understanding of the material.

It's the difference between actually understanding a concept and just knowing the name of a concept that can make or break a test score. By pretending to be a teacher, you can ensure that you're not merely reciting information, but grasping ideas.

Collaborate with classmates

Don't let the myth that studying should only be done alone hold you back from securing an A. Group study can eliminate procrastination when members are motivated and stay on task. Focused discussions can help clarify questions and sharing notes can fill in the gaps that would otherwise be missed. Schedule a Zoom meeting with a few of your classmates to test your comprehension and add to your notes.

Don't forget to take care of yourself

Granted, we are in the middle of a pandemic. Allow yourself to step away from the computer and get some much-needed rest, as studies have shown that sleep enhances studying by helping your brain retain information. Pulling an all-nighter will lead to grogginess, fatigue and perhaps a grade lower than you'd hope for.