University of Wisconsin–Madison
Female student sitting at a table with several books open around her

5 ways to help you succeed during midterms

Mid-term is a challenging time. Between studying for exams, writing papers, and working on other projects, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Here are five ways to help get a better handle on your demanding workload.

Get Help

You don’t have to go it alone. In addition to your instructors and fellow students, campus resources are available to help.

Stress Management

It is perhaps unavoidable that mid-term exams and projects cause a certain amount of anxiety, but anxiety can make students perform worse. University Health Services (UHS) tells us that “Students report that stress, anxiety, and sleep difficulties create their greatest negative academic impact.” Get help from UHS in managing stress.

Projects

If you’re stuck on technology needed for a project, Software Training for Students (STS) can help. In addition to troubleshooting pesky software problems, STS trainers can help you choose the right tools and techniques for the job and provide individualized instruction.

Papers

The Writing Center helps undergraduate and graduate writers at any stage of the writing process, from choosing a topic to drafting and revising, for any writing project. Each year, more than 7,000 students from across the university, from first-year through doctoral students, benefit from talking and working with a Writing Center instructor.

Minimize distractions & interruptions

Distractions cause errors, and eat time like you wouldn’t believe. According to a study at University of California, Irvine, the average recovery time from a distracting interruption is about 23 minutes. Avoiding only three such interruptions a week while studying is like getting an extra hour of study time, and who couldn’t use that?

Choose the Right Setting

Limit distractions from your studies by picking a less distracting location. The Libraries website has an interactive map of campus library locations, with links to their hours, websites, phone numbers and other useful information.

See also our article on the ‘Best study spaces on campus’.

Memorization

If you want to improve your memorization skills, consider the following tips:

  1. Mnemonics: Mnemonics make memorization easier and quicker by converting information into a more easily recalled form. If you have trouble thinking of your own mnemonics, there are several websites that will generate them for you.
  2. Practice: Practice by yourself, and with friends. Use study cards, practice exams, and study groups. StudyBlue is an online study tool, founded by two UW-Madison students, where students can share content such as notes and flashcards. See UW-Madison course specific content on StudyBlue.

Reward yourself

The article Improving Study Habits with Psychology outlines five guidelines for using rewards to study more effectively. To summarize:

  1. Use a powerful reward.
  2. Set a specific goal.
  3. Set a reward schedule.
  4. Stick with the plan.
  5. Reward less frequently when the goal is reached.

Take Breaks

Take a break for five minutes out of every hour. Use the time to move around and stretch – this will help you stay alert, and breaks can also function as small rewards.