1. Know Yourself

Before you even stress about what material you do or don’t know for the exams you have to know yourself.

Some people need to work in short, desperate bursts of cramming. Others instead get better results with a long, methodical approach to difficult classes. Some people have lots of trouble memorizing numbers and names, but they might be great at breezing through a word limit even if it means writing gibberish just to keep their fingers moving. Studying doesn’t come as a one-size fits all method: before you start any studying strategy, ask yourself: has this been working?

Asking myself, I found out that it doesn’t: Even though I like the idea of cramming for big exams, my grades show that doesn’t give me the results I want. Even though all my friends do it, it doesn’t work for me. Ultimately, I had to go to a personal different strategy; you might be the same way.


2. Ask Your Teacher

Your teacher wants you to succeed and they’re the best study-pal you could have; they’re the smartest kid in the class, so to speak. Going to your teacher in advance of the test can help you clear up any difficult points and most importantly, help guide you to the areas you might need to pay more attention to. Like a ouija board, they’ll point you in the right direction without even thinking about it.

Just ask your teacher to clear up issues and you can also prevent disaster. I once found out I was studying the wrong chapters from an uncorrected syllabus. Getting the initiative to go to the teacher saved me a letter grade in five minutes.


3. Separate Issues

If you have multiple midterms, be sure to stagger them in a way that you only have one focus at once. It can be tempting to collide all the studying into one amorphous blob of study hours. Don’t. If you do your brain becomes a soup and a jumble. Instead, make clear dividing lines in your time and studying: even if you know you won’t confuse Science stuff for History stuff, you might confuse how much you studied for either. The impression of “I studied all day!” will make you forget that you split your time between the subjects.


4. Use People…well

People are a double edged sword.

Be sure to use them to their best for studying: you can make plans to study with people, trade notes, and most importantly, egg each other on: if you have people to study with, you can make sure you actually get yourself to study, instead of just watching Hulu.

However you have to watch out: studying with your friends can turn into hanging out with your friends instead. Worse, if you’re not careful, you’ll each cover the same stuff as each other, wasting time and giving you all the false impression that you’ve already studied enough. Nothing’s worse than looking at the test and realizing that the kids you hang out with in the back of class all took the same terrible notes as you did.