How To: Do Your Best on Timed Remote Midterms

By Karen K. Kim

Don’t you miss the rush of adrenaline that kicks in while entering a jam-packed Science Center Hall B on midterm day? There’s nothing like the students rushing in from both sides, the papers flying, and trying desperately to secure a sought-after aisle seat. Freshmen, you’ll have to take our word for it — midterms in person were truly an experience. Though we aren’t able to take midterms physically in those beloved Science Center rooms this term, there are definitely some ways to succeed in making your at-home study space a “mini” lecture hall, aka a space where you can actually take a midterm without worrying that your little sibling will barge in asking you for help.

Make a “Stay Out” Sign

Grab markers, crayons, and drawing paper left over from your elementary school stash of school supplies, and make a sign on your door for when you’re taking a midterm. Feel free to make the sign pretty (maybe even sparkly!) and write in big, bold letters: “MIDTERM IN SESSION.” Hopefully, your family/roommates/anyone else will get the memo that you are taking a midterm and that it’s not the best time for an interruption.

If you are taking midterms in a space that you share with roommates or family members, let others know in advance when your exams are so they can plan to minimize any sounds or disruptions. Communication is most definitely key. If, however, you’re really unable to find a quiet space, consider purchasing some ear plugs or playing white noise to cancel out the surrounding noise, and reach out to your professor to see if any accommodations will be possible.

Get Organized

Next, make sure that your new “Remote Science Center Hall B” is actually fit for taking a midterm. Remove distractions, like that plate of lunch that’s been sitting on your desk since yesterday. Take out any materials that you need for the exam (paper, pencils, pens, calculator, etc.) and make sure that you have a clock nearby to check timing.

Is your exam open-note? If so, then make sure you have easy access to any and all notes that could possibly help. The easier it is to access these materials, the less time you’ll waste searching for that specific bullet point in those lecture slides. For many, open-notes is actually overwhelming because there are just SO MANY NOTES. Consider consolidating only the most important parts of your notes so that you don’t spread those precious exam minutes searching through Canvas folder after Canvas folder.

Practice Like It’s the Real Thing

As some pre-exam prep, if the course offers practice midterms, consider taking these as if they were real. Follow steps 1-4 if you can, try to resist skipping straight to the answer key the moment you see a question you don’t know the answer to, and time yourself as you take the practice exam. Doing this will allow you to gauge how much time you should spend on each section.

Most importantly, remember that this midterm is JUST a midterm. It’s important to be kind to yourself. Keep reminding yourself that you’re awesome and amazing, and you’re doing your best during a very unusual semester. Once you’ve completed the midterm, consider getting some fresh air or treating yourself with something nice. You did it!

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