It’s 1 a.m. and you’re cramming for that midterm at 10 a.m. tomorrow, looking at Powerpoint slides you’ll never remember and memorizing terms you’ll soon forget. Even if you, like most other students, end up leaving that Monday morning midterm defeated, stressed out, and on the verge of tears, take solace in the fact that your college career is not over - you will have many more opportunities to procrastinate and put yourself in the same unfortunate situation again. Flyby has some advice for those who might not have done as well as they hoped on the midterm (and we’re serious):
Hope for the Best
The first step for getting over a potentially poor performance on a midterm is not to catastrophize. When you come out of the midterm, your first instinct will be to frantically check your notes, striving to figure out what you got right and what you got wrong. Don’t do that. It will only serve to create more stress and, moreover, may give you a skewed perception of your performance. You never know how much (or how little) partial credit will be given or how generous your TF or grader will be feeling. Even if you feel like the world is falling apart, wait until you actually get the midterm grade back to start stressing out.
Remember the Harvard Curve
The curve is a Harvard undergrad’s best friend. When everybody does badly, everybody does well. It turns a 62 on the first Ec10 midterm into a B+ and an 84 on the Stat 110 midterm into an A.
Seek Help (Beg the TF for a Better Grade)
If you are really disappointed with your midterm grade go talk to your TF. At minimum, he or she can help you understand what you got wrong and how you can improve on it in the future. Sometimes, a TF will even let you do corrections to make up some of the points you lost. Don’t be worried about asking for help and go in with an open mind because no matter what, it will be a helpful experience.
Focus on the Next One
Although this the hardest part of the process, but it’s also the one step that will ensure you don’t have to repeat this process. When your next midterm or assignment is coming up, remember that you had trouble last time and take steps to do some extra preparation. This may consist of starting to study a few days earlier, going to extra review sessions, or meeting with your TF to go over practice questions or difficult concepts. Although the life of a Harvard student is busy, even a small bit of extra preparation will go a long way to ensuring that you leave your next midterm with sanity intact.
And remember, since midterm season is basically endless, there's always the chance to do better next time. Good luck “studying”!