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College is all fun and games until you remember that you are still being graded for being there (…even if you don’t show up to class…oops). Duke University is not known for being easy, but there are definitely ways to make sure that you are well-prepared for midterm season!

1. Start early

Cramming is proven to create lower test scores and increase stress – don’t do it. “Early” is a relative term, but make sure that you have ample time to review all the material and clarify any confusing concepts before the midterm. A week in advance is reasonable when you consider you have three midterms and two papers all due in the same week!

2. Organize your notes

Studying from a clutter of papers and scribbles doesn’t help and can honestly be a waste of time. Rewrite any notes that are jumbled up together (rewriting is actually a far effective study method than rereading), and write down new questions on a separate sheet of paper about material that you don’t understand. You can access Duke University notes and study guides on OneClass.

3. Utilize your resources

Duke wants you to succeed in your academics – there are free peer tutors through the academic resource center that you can request online. Simply visiting the Academic Resource Center can help as well as they provide tips not only for test-taking and studying but also for destressing and managing time. Office hours is also often looked over – your professors are required to offer office hours – it is their job to help you learn, not just ace a test. Upperclassmen or peer study groups are great unofficial sources of academic help. Don’t be afraid to reach out!

4. Study smart, not long

The college course pace is significantly faster than high school, which means that so much more material is covered on the exam. Instead of one or two chapters, the exam is over six as well as lecture material, and the load seems unbearable. Here’s some tips to study smart – not just for a long amount of time.

1. Study a little along the way – do work outside of just class time.

2. Rereading notes is inefficient – make flashcards, or employ other study methods that require recall and more active thinking.

3. Do practice problems – even if they are optional. Actively working things out improves memory and facilitates learning.

A Final Note: Midterms can be a stressful season, but just remember that no matter what grade you get, there is always another test to improve and that this grade is not your final indicator of success in college.

Good luck!


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Christina Shin


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