College midterm exams: Time management tips for college students

College midtermsYou’re just beginning to get into the swing of being back in school and now the infamous midterm exam is looming ahead. You’re going to have to think fast and find some good time management tips for college students so that you don’t fall behind. Here are a few ideas to help you get through your midterms without skipping a beat.

Midterm exams: What… me worry?

Don’t put it off. Start gearing up now for your midterm exams. A good place to start is with your course syllabus. That’s where your professors list all of the course requirements, the grading guidelines, due dates, and assignment details.

Make sure that you’ve read all of the assigned chapters and other materials for your course. Next, go over your notes from the class lectures. No notes? You’d better visit your prof during office hours. Be willing to ask for help and clarification on any areas where you’re fuzzy. Also, connect with fellow students to compare what notes you do have.

Actually, this is stuff that you should have been doing all along. But you know that.

Juggling act

Other bits of wisdom come from Tamara Burns in her September 28, 2011 post for Colorado State blog titled, “Midterm Shmidterm – Do I Really Need to Worry?

Recognizing that many students are juggling school, work and family life, Burns advised, “Dedicate the time you need to study and stick to it. If you’ve set aside a certain evening or day off to study, then make sure you stick to that plan. Also make sure you’ve planned enough study time.”

Burns also recommended taking regular breaks while studying. After all, your brain can only cram so much information at a time. Be sure to take time for a brisk walk to get some fresh air, increase your circulation and boost your mood.

Do what’s needed – not what’s easy

The pressure of taking midterm exams brings into sharp focus the need for developing skills like time management, organization and prioritizing of work. These are skills that will work well for you in any career and in your personal life. So it’s a good idea to jump in now and get these skills under your belt.

You think that being a freshman or sophomore is hard? Try grad school. Hai Nguyen described how he had to learn time management and organization skills while earning his PhD at Stanford. In his June 14, 2012 post for titled, “Top 10 time management skills for college students from a Stanford entrepreneur,” Nguyen explained his formula for success.

One key to success is to know where to focus your efforts. “It’s absolutely important that you decide to work on the things that have the biggest impact (perhaps to your grade), and not because it’s easy,” Nguyen emphasized.

Write it down

Be sure to keep a written schedule of your time. It could be as simple as a notebook or as streamlined as an app on your smartphone. Whatever you use, it will help you to track, plan and prioritize the many tasks that you have to juggle.

Some mobile apps to consider include:

  • Evernote for note-taking
  • Quickoffice Pro HD to create and edit Microsoft Office files and share them
  • Dropbox for cloud storage and sharing
  • Wunderlist for scheduling and tracking your tasks

Be flexible

Another valuable skill is the ability to work smarter. This means finding bits of time during your day where you can focus on a task and do what you can with it. Examples of how this works come from Beth Dumbauld in an article for titled, “8 Time Management Tips for Adult College Students.”

“For example, an email can be written on a bus ride, a problem set can be finished while waiting for a dentist, and the opening paragraph of a paper can be drafted at your child’s gymnastic class. Don’t wait for those big chunks of time to get everything done,” Dumbauld said.

Wherever you go, have your schedule and your tools with you so that you can get in bits of work and study time no matter what else you have going on. You’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish working this way. And you’ll find that it’s less stressful because you’re not trying to cram everything in at one time.

What are your best tips for getting ready for midterms? Tell us in the comments below.

8 replies
  1. claire moore says:

    I hope that you found this article useful. Remember that if you need more help to check with your professor and with the tutor center on your campus.

  2. Ahmed Guahd says:

    Thanks for the helpful tips during these stressful times. I just wish that I had received this email with the tips like a month ago. I tried Evernote about a year ago, but Wunderlist is ALOT better than Evernote and Dropbox is the best when it comes to case studies with your, because you can share memos, files, etc.

  3. Linda Blanchard says:

    I need Help Tell me how I work from 8a. to 430pm and got to school from 530pm to 10:30pm I get up at 5am to be to work at 8am, i leave the house 6:45am I need tutoring and how to help my 11 year old with his homework, the day my Friends are not helping him the night i have school

    • claire moore says:


      All I know about your situation is what you have described here. It sounds as if you may have taken on more than you can realistically handle right now.

      Your health and your family come first. Think about how you can change your obligations so that you can serve yourself and your family without driving yourself into a bad health situation.

      Check with the advisers at your school. They are motivated to help you to be successful and have resources to help you will juggling school and work.

      Unfortunately, it may be that the best situation is to slow down on taking classes and stretching out how long it will take you to graduate.

      I can’t really say what is best for you. All I can suggest is that you seek assistance from those who are in a position to help you. That would include the people at your school and your family (who may be able to pitch in too).

      Best of luck to you


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *