Best Online Midterm Study Tips

Your midterm is likely your first comprehensive assessment in class and may count for a significant portion of your grade—something that is always nerve-wracking. If 30 percent of your overall grade relies on the results of a single test, it can be the source of some anxiety, which may be amplified in an online course. If you are worried about how to prepare for your first midterm in an online course, follow the advice below to ensure you’re using the best study practices in your midterm prep.

Take advantage of any materials available

Often, professors of online courses will provide you with some resources to use in order to prepare for any major test. Perhaps your professor has provided sample questions or a practice exam for you to work on. The professor posts these materials for a reason—they’re a great tool for studying. Take advantage of any of these resources available to you. Even if sample questions or practice tests aren’t made available to you, you can search for studying resources online, or ask your professor if he or she can recommend some.

Reach out to the professor for advice

Your professor is there to assist you in the learning process. Even if your professor has already made materials available, it’s a good idea to contact the professor for advice anyway. Tell your professor if it’s your first online course, and ask if he or she has any advice on how you can best prepare. Even if it isn’t your first online course, asking about the structure, format, and breadth of content that will be covered on the midterm can give you useful information you need to prepare.

Find a midterm study partner

Your professor isn’t the only person who can be helpful resource—you can utilize your classmates for midterm prep, as well. Just because your classroom isn’t brick and mortar, doesn’t mean you can’t find a study buddy. Utilize your course’s ListServ to reach out to potential study partners. You can easily study together online, and even share study materials, such as digital flashcards. Having another set of eyes on the material may help you identify areas that you may have overlooked in your own studies and give you a fresh perspective.

Disconnect from social media, email, and other digital distractions

While connecting with classmates to study is great, make sure your Internet connection isn’t a source of distraction during study time. Disconnect from social media and email not related to the course to ensure you’re focused on your class material. There are even site blockers you can use to temporarily enforce productivity. You can study for hours, but that time could be wasted if you aren’t dedicating your full attention to preparing for the exam. The best method to keep you on track is to log out while you study.

Pace yourself

Your midterm prep shouldn’t consist of one cram session the night before the test. Instead, dedicate a little bit of time each day to studying in the days or even weeks leading up to the test. Breaking your study time into “chunks” is more effective than longer study sessions, and you’re more likely to recall the information you’ve reviewed. Go through any reading material that was previously assigned, and skim it again for important information. Look through your notes to brush up on and identify areas you’re struggling with. Manage your time well, and take short breaks to help you stay focused. When it comes time to take the exam, make sure you have a quiet space available that is free from distractions to mimic a traditional testing environment as closely as possible.

Although online courses may offer more independence and less structure, they are not less challenging. Your online course (and midterm) is just as important as any other course—treat it as such. Even if you’re taking your midterm in your PJs, it is still a test that has important implications for your future. Keep that in mind as you study, and be sure to dedicate as much as time and effort to your online midterms as you would for any other course.

Catherine Martin is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.