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12 Tips to Ace Midterm Exams

As the holidays approach, middle and high school students are prepping – and cramming – for midterms. Here are a dozen quick, helpful study tips to boost results.

This is a guest post from Canterbury School of Florida's Director of College Guidance and Curriculum Development, Mrs. Donnamarie Hehn.

While most adults are busy putting up lights, wrapping gifts and mailing packages for the holiday season, middle and high school students are fully focused on cramming for midterm examinations. Here, some helpful study tips to make studying easier and more productive.

1. Study in Chunks. Don’t cram everything into one night. Study in 20- to 50-minute increments with five-minute breaks between sessions. Try not to peek at your social media during those breaks. Five minutes on Pinterest can quickly become five hours!

2. Listen to Mozart. Certain types of music have been shown to activate both the right and left sides of the brain. Listening to classical music while studying can increase the likelihood that you will retain relevant information.

3. Move Your Study Space. Rather than sticking to one study spot, switch things up when reviewing for exams. Try spaces indoors (dining table), outdoors (local park or boat marina) or even retail space (think quiet coffee shop like Kahwa).

4. Drink Cocoa. The cocoa bean is packed with antioxidants (healthy stuff) and cognitive enhancers (thinking stuff). Best recipe: a spoonful of organic cocoa in a mug of hot milk with a splash of cinnamon. Though it may seem contradictory, coffee is not the best study drink. While it temporarily helps you focus, it ultimately interrupts sleep patterns.

5. Form a Study Group. Study group members can hold you accountable when it's hard to get motivated. Divide and conquer the definition of terms and explanations of concepts. Share resources.

6. Prevent Test Anxiety. To remain calm and prevent "blanking out" during a test, imagine yourself acing the test in the days and hours leading up to it. If you do have a moment of panic during the test, take deep breaths with long exhales. Focus on what you know, answer those questions first, and keep things in perspective.

7. Exercise. Did you know that twenty minutes of cardio each day can help improve your memory?

8. Manage Your Time. Make a realistic study schedule, including breaks. Prioritize according to which class requires the most studying for you. Ideally, you should begin prepping for midterms once the calendar turns to December. Do not wait!

9. Check In with Your Teachers. Make sure you receive all review materials. Do not miss any review sessions that are offered. Ask for extra help if you discover that you really have not mastered a concept or skill.

10. Approach Each Class Differently. Studying for English is not the same as studying for math. Make sure you know how to study for each exam. If you don't, review #5 and #9.

11. Build on What You Know. Review what you know first, then add more difficult or recent material as you proceed.

12. Make It Interesting. Use mnemonic devices (PEMDAS – order of operations in math), acronyms based on personal experiences, or put a list of information to music to bring test material to life.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Karen Mathews December 11, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Great advice Mrs. Hehn!!
Jennifer Roach December 12, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Thank you Mrs. Hehn...I am going to pass this along at St Pete HS!!
John M December 12, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Once again Mrs. Hehn proves why she is the best director of college guidance in the state! Canterbury is so lucky to have you.

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