Preparing for midterms: How to maintain your motivation during the semester

Sara LeStrange and Julia Fabrizio

As midterms are quickly approaching, the stress of studying and getting good grades is quickly setting in. Although it can be overwhelming, there are plenty of ways to study and prepare that can allow you to walk into your exams confidently.

Every semester, classes begin and before we know it, midterms are upon us. Check with your professors early to find out the dates of your exams and what will be on the test. This allows you to organize a study schedule based on the amount of material you need to study before the midterm.

Write down the dates and set reminders to start studying roughly two weeks before the test. The more time you give yourself, the better off you’ll be if a certain social event or sports game you want to attend comes up at the last minute.

It is helpful to study frequently, because when you do so you are constantly reminding yourself of the material so you can know it by heart. That said, try breaking up your studying into smaller portions. This allows you to relax more, because you’re less likely to get overwhelmed by how much material you need to know. Strategies you can use include making flash cards, rewriting important notes, making a personalized study guide, rereading chapters, reviewing PowerPoint slides and studying with a friend. For the material that you find the most challenging, try color-coding the terms and information to help you better grasp certain concepts.

To change things up while you study, try moving to different spaces, like your desk, your bed or various spots in the library. Even a dining hall could be a better environment for you to review. Listening to music or treating yourself to your favorite drink at Starbucks can help motivate you as well.

If you aren’t understanding some of the material, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Talk to your professor if you have questions, or use Iona’s Samuel Rudin Academic Resource Center, which is a free tutoring facility for all students. It’s located at the ground level of Amend Hall, and you can schedule appointments online or by phone. All information is found on the Rudin Center’s webpage on the Iona website.


Besides studying, it is extremely beneficial to get a good night’s sleep. Set up a solid sleep schedule prior to taking exams, and avoid pulling all-nighters at all costs. The last thing you want is to study all night, and then end up sleeping through your midterm. You should also try to stay hydrated and eat well-balanced meals. Take it slow with the caffeine as well, because too much can give you anxiety and issues sleeping.

Remember to be prepared for the actual test. Review the material on study guides that were provided to you, and don’t forget extra pens or pencils and if needed, a calculator. Be on time for your midterm! Don’t add any extra stress by running late on the day you take the test. When it’s time to take the midterm, try to relax and pretend it’s just a regular exam. Focus on each question and avoid rushing through the test. Bring water and dress comfortably. Good luck to all students on their exams – study hard and make yourselves proud!