The goal of any educator is to impart new knowledge to students and have them retain that information. For college students about to take midterm exams, that is especially important. Try these simple teaching strategies to help prepare your students for success.

Types of tests

When it comes to midterm exams or any test, there are two basic styles to choose from for your college students. Which you select will depend on the course you are teaching and the goals you have for your class. The first option is an objective test, including true/false, multiple-choice, fill-in-the- blank, and matching questions. With an objective test, there is only one correct answer and one way to provide that answer. The other option is a subjective test, which has only one answer, but that answer can be provided in a range of ways.

Carolyn H. Hopper offered a breakdown of both test styles in Practicing College Learning Strategies, 7th edition. She suggested for college students “certain strategies can be used with each kind of test so that you get the most out of your effort … different test types require different strategies in both studying for and taking tests” (Hopper, 205). To start the process of how to prepare your students for midterms, be sure they understand what kind of test you will be using, then offer within your lesson some study and teaching strategies to aid them.

How to prepare suggestions

There are a multitude of teaching strategies you can use in the classroom to help college students ready themselves for their midterm exams:

  • Suggest they create a crib sheet. Even if they can’t use it in class for the midterm exam, creating a condensed reminder of their notes from lectures can be an effective way for college students to solidify the knowledge you have shared in class.
  • Develop a learning map. Have students think through how what they have learned so far relates to the next section of the course. Comparing and contrasting topics covered and reviewing the main points is another effective way to help students process the information.
  • Organize a fact sheet. Creating a document for the main concepts of a course can be an effective way for college students to not only understand ideas, but also to review key talking points.

Learning styles

Finally, it is important to note that whatever teaching strategies you employ, how to prepare students will depend on the course and the learning style of each student. As Heather Fry; Steve Ketteridge et al. noted in A Handbook for Teaching & Learning in Higher Education, “All too often, discussions of teaching in higher education centre on the premise that learning is only, or primarily, about the acquisition of more and more factual information. But what is, arguably, more important is the way learners structure information and how well that enables them to use it.”

Obviously you can’t individually instruct each college student in your class, but you can diversify the way you cover material to try and address different learning styles.

Do you have any other suggestions for effective teaching strategies others can use to prepare college students for midterm exams? Let us know in the comments.

Reference: Hopper, Carolyn H. 2016. Practicing College Learning Strategies, 7th ed. Boston, Mass: Cengage Learning.