This post is part of our weekly International Voices column, writing by UT students, for UT current and prospective students. Enjoy!
So it’s that time in the semester where the first round of midterms begins and all you want to do is curl up in your warm, comfortable bed and never leave. Yes, I’ve been through that, and I’m still going through the phase of denial where you’re thinking, “but classes have only just started, why do we have exams already?!” Midterms are definitely stressful, and as a college freshman, they can be extremely daunting. It’s even more difficult for international students who aren’t used to the American GPA system and have to adjust to the fact that in most classes, exams aren’t the only things which contribute towards the final grade. I definitely had a tough time adjusting to the new grading policies and the plus minus system was (and still is) the bane of my existence. However, with the right preparation, midterms are doable and you feel so great after you’re done!
Don’t procrastinate! Professors usually release dates of exams and the final right at the start of the semester, so mark all of them on your calendar and start preparing early (and by early I mean at least a week before). Most of the time, you will find that you have two or maybe even three exams in one week, so to reduce the stress, start studying at least two weeks in advance. Look at your notes after class, and maybe rewrite key points and rework some problems so it sticks.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! There are plenty of tutors at UT to help you with almost every subject, so don’t feel frustrated if you don’t understand something. Also, making friends in your classes so you have a study group before exams really helps. My chemical engineering professor told us the other day- “Always make friends with people who are smarter than you, so they pull you up.” It’s true! If you are in a study group that is unproductive, it will not help you pass your exam, so try and find other people to work with.
Just relax! Midterms can feel like the end of the world, especially if you haven’t done as well as you thought you had, but the most important thing to remember is not to get disheartened. If you feel like you aren’t performing to your full potential, go talk to your professor or TA during their office hours and see where you are going wrong. Also, avoid pulling all-nighters and excess caffeine before any exam, because they are terrible ideas and will most likely result in a bad grade on the exam. Don’t panic, and trust that you are intelligent and have studied enough to ace the exam. Finally, don’t forget to celebrate with some post-exam frozen yogurt!