Students offer midterm season tips and tricks

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Ryan Turner
Students line up outside of the BYU Testing Center. As students take midterms, they can find guidance in study tips. (Ryan Turner)

Students often feel ambushed by exams, noting that just as they finish preparing for and taking one, another project or test pops up on their calendar.

The constant pressure of exams and project deadlines competing with the demands of social events, work, health and other needs can leave students feeling stressed and overwhelmed. As students take their midterms, they can find guidance in study tips.

Chauncey West, a pre-business major, said going to the professor and teaching assistants is crucial for doing well on midterms. He recommends going in around a month ahead of time with good questions. 

“That is the one and only thing that is going to get you a good grade on an exam… They know exactly what they are doing,” West said. 

Baylee Dean, a teaching assistant for SOC 381, agreed with West, but did say students need to do their own studying before showing up to work with a professor or TA, even if it is for a designated TA review.

“You don’t know what you don’t know,” Dean said, “If you didn’t do any studying beforehand… it’s not going to help you.”

Juliana Banks, a student studying biophysics, said to focus on concepts and application when there’s an option to use note sheets during exams. 

“Go over what you think the biggest concepts are and write down what you know you won’t understand about it,” Banks said. 

Sometimes, even with the best of efforts, tests result in disappointing grades. Almary Illum, a student studying mathematics, said that while at the moment students might not feel great about their score, “in five years, it’s not going to matter.” 

Noelani Porter, an adjunct professor who teaches STDEV 109, shared some of her top tips, many of which come from her STDEV class, which focuses on study skills and habits. 

Aside from advising that students need to do the study basics, such as reviewing notes and talking with TAs, Porter also said students need to focus on havingnutrition, exercise, balanced sleep and a social schedule. 

When describing the general breakdown of student performance, Porter said “the first thing to go, is sleep and the next is nutrition. It has a domino effect.” 

To keep on top of a healthy social schedule, Porter said students need to develop discipline because motivation to balance studying and having fun will inevitably run out.

Students often feel the pressure to be as “on demand” as other aspects of their lives, such as the constant availability of streaming or food delivery services, Porter said. To combat this, she suggested students turn off their phones while studying.

“The one exception I will make is if you have a wife who is about to give birth. Other than that, it’s not like you’re going dark for hours on end,” Porter said. 

Porter also said Elder Michael A. Dunn’s talk “One Percent Better” and Elder Vaiangina Sikahema’s talk “A House of Sequential Order” provide gospel-centered insights for academic success. 

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