For many college students, midterms may signal that it is now “time to cram” by staying up all night, forgoing a healthy routine in favor of intense study sessions and high caffeine intake. Of course, last-minute, all-night study sessions are never the solution for student success. When students attempt to simply memorize the facts that will let them pass the test, they are far less likely to retain the information than if they had been thoroughly engaged with the course material throughout the semester. However, when it comes time for midterm exams, all students stand to gain from a good refresher of the material. And nutrition, exercise, and a full night’s sleep are always highly under-rated. Taking an important exam is much easier when you feel fresh and energized to do so.

In her text, 100% Student Success, Third Edition, author Gwenn Wilson offers some study tips for staying focused and getting energized when it’s time to review that are healthy alternatives to the all-night cram session:

  • Have a consistent study area.
  • Apply organizational techniques to your study habits and space.
  • Create a healthy physical environment that includes ample lighting, ergonomically sound furniture arrangements, and a comfortable room temperature.
  • Avoid distractions by turning off the phone, avoiding social media, and asking family members and roommates to avoid interrupting you.
  • Consider an alternative study location, such as the library, if home cannot be made distraction free.
  • Have clearly defined goals for each study session.
  • Take a 20- to 30-minute break for every hour and a half spent studying. (86)

Establishing a good time management strategy leading up to midterm exams will help you keep your grade and health levels up and your stress level down. Make time to review all of the assigned chapters and other materials for your course, including your own personal notes. If you do this sooner rather than later, you’ll have plenty of time to come to class prepared to ask questions or visit established office hours.

Another option is to set up some time to discuss the material with your classmates. Helping a fellow student to better understand a particular topic will help to better ingrain your own knowledge and help you feel more excited and confident about the material.


Reference: Wilson, Gwenn. 2015. 100% Student Success, 3rd ed.. Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.


What suggestions do you have for getting students focused and energized for midterms? Share your ideas in the comments below!