The smell of midterms has graced the halls of MacEwan University, but for many, that also brings the impending fear of failure. For some, midterms are a bad fever dream that occurs two to three times per year; for others, mainly first-year students, they are a compilation of every nerve-racking moment they’ve ever experienced. I sat down with Students’ Association of MacEwan University’s VP Academic — Stephan Vasquez — to talk about all things midterms and the top five tips to ace them!
Tip #1: Focus on the important things
Many of us spend days leading up to the exam re-reading every chapter, lecture, and note we have ever taken. We’ve spent hours memorizing the slightest detail, anticipating that it would result in a defining mark. According to The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, this method is ineffective in retaining the necessary information. After a while of reading, the information you learned in a previous chapter has already left your brain. Only highlight the important points and make sure to put them in your notes. If you’re unsure of the important points, the class syllabus will guide you through what you need to know and when you learned it.
Tip #2: Create a Study Schedule
Study schedules may sound tedious, but they can be extremely helpful in avoiding all-nighters. Start one week before the exam if you plan to study certain concepts every night. This will give you time to study each concept effectively, create a summary, and briefly run down the night before without compromising your mental and physical health.
Tip #3: Turn one key paragraph into one sentence
Vasquez noted a key tip in their daily studying rituals: turn paragraphs into sentences. As a Political Science Major, a portion of their content is concepts-based. By using the strategy to summarize one key paragraph into one sentence, it will allow you to retain the same amount of information without the hassle of long-winded sentences that provide zero additional information.
Tip #4: Take advantage of MacEwan’s resources
MacEwan University offers plenty of resources to help every student. The study buddy program is offered through the online social platform, Discord, where you can set yourself up with a study buddy for each class. You and your buddy can study, do homework, and keep each other on track when you have difficulty staying focused. This is the perfect resource for making friends and holding yourself accountable.
For technical help, the Writing Center and the Math and Stats Learning Centre at MacEwan both offer students help with statistics, mathematics, and essays that they may find challenging.
Other services also include access and disability resources, Academic Support Center, Exam Services Center, and deferred exams*.
Tip #5: Pomodoro Effect
The Pomodoro Effect distributes your studying time into intervals. If you have difficulty staying focused, this advanced study technique is for you. First, you’ll spend 25-minutes studying, and then take a five-minute break, repeating the process until your studying is completed. This method instills a sense of urgency while also allowing you to work at your own pace.
The opportunities MacEwan offers can guide you on your career path, build your resume, and give you experiences that you will carry forward. Midterms are frightening, but as Vasquez said best: be soft with yourself and give yourself room to fail. Go out there and ace your midterms, Griffins!
* Please note: Deferred Exams require a form and a letter from the department Dean or the Professor to be completed.