Hello Gauchos, this is your conscience speaking. You know that odd sensation you feel churning in your gut right now? That would be your circadian rhythms indicating it’s that special time of year when we are granted the opportunity to demonstrate to our parents why we are, in fact, the smartest party school in the nation. It’s midterm time – in other words, student-hunting open season.
I must confess that I’m actually somewhat of a masochist: I enjoy getting tattoos, I don’t mind getting my hands dirty in a game of Kill the Pill, and, despite your inevitable compulsion to backhand me, I thoroughly enjoy midterms. Before you shake your head in disapproval, at least hear me out and you’ll understand why. Forgo reading this article, and I guarantee you that midterms are going to hit you harder than Ike hit Tina. It is my greatest hope that by the time you finish this article, you will feel well prepared for the trials to come.
My first piece of advice is to start going to lecture consistently. Professors have a proclivity to reiterate important points and/or provide review sheets that will help you ace the exam. The vast majority of professors aren’t very deceitful. But it is imperative you review the material chronologically since this is how the lectures are structured – especially if you’re taking chemistry. Another important factor: Classes are usually centered on lecture notes. You don’t necessarily have to pitch a tent in the library for the next three weeks – these are midterms, not the midnight release of Harry Potter.
This leads me to my next point: Play to your advantages and apply yourself. If you learn best from reading, then go ahead and read. But be sure that you’re not highlighting just for the sake of brightening the dull material. It would be prudent to scan the terms, and, rather than simply carbon copying the page, transliterate the valuable information into a form that is most conducive towards you committing it to memory. For example, pneumonic devices and obscure phrases have always helped me absorb information for classes based on pure memorization, such as art history. Believe me, the weirder the reference you create, the easier it will be to remember – Dr. FONClBrSH will forever be my homie. If you prefer learning by doing, discuss your notes with your friends. Do yourself a favor and don’t write off Sally Stupid as useless, but rather, lend her a hand. As a result, you will be a better person and will have absorbed the information tenfold. Perhaps Sally might even know something you don’t – it’s a win-win situation.
A common misconception about short- and long-answer tests is that you have to channel your inner Shakespeare and write a masterpiece – hardly. Unlike everyone’s favorite test, the S.A.T., professors more often aim to reward you for what you do correctly rather than punish you for what you do wrong. Though it is still important to unite your seemingly incoherent garble with a common idea, you should spill out as much information as humanly possible. True, it would be a good idea to keep it both legible and literate, but you’re more likely to hit a bulls-eye with 20 arrows rather than three, regardless of how blunt those arrowheads may be.
Finally, the best-kept secret toward acing your midterms is to entertain the poor souls who grade your exams: your teaching assistants. Bear in mind, the TA populace is primarily composed of college students much like yourself who teach as a means of milking the academic teat for some marginal income. The redundancy of reading the same responses will inevitably take its toll, so it’s a good idea to humor them in lieu of leaving the question blank. I had a friend in my chemistry class who had a major brain fart, so rather than not answer, he wrote a short story about a bunny named Slap-happy. Needless to say, the TA, evidently amused by this exception to the norm, awarded him half-credit. Hallelujah!
Happy last-minute cramming, Gauchos, and best of luck on your misnomer midterms.