Opinion: It’s time to embrace midterm exams

As much as you may hate them, your midterm exams can help you in the long run.


Aaliya Luthra

NYU’s dreaded midterm season actually provides many benefits to students. (Illustration by Aaliya Luthra)

Molly Koch, Contributing Writer

It’s your first year at college, and wow, this is easy. A five-question problem set here, a discussion board post there — you’ve just been breezing through your classes, right? 

Maybe it’s just me, but this past month and a half has felt like some prestigious sleep-away camp — not for long. NYU has officially entered its dreaded midterm season and your workload has quickly picked up. If you’re unlucky — which most students are — you’ll have several assignments due on the same day as your big exam. You may be asking yourself why midterms are even necessary. But I can promise you that they’re essential and more beneficial than you might think.

Steinhardt first-year Jasley de Jesus explained that midterm exams stress her out, but help her form effective study methods. 

“My upcoming midterm exams make me work harder on studying to understand the concepts,” she said. 

A rule of thumb for college studying suggests that students should allocate two to three hours for every hour spent in class instruction. However, if it’s your first year in college, maybe you haven’t been studying on a daily basis before. Midterms can get you into that routine by helping you assess study habits and even prompting you to find new ones.

Midterms can also help you track your own progress. This is especially useful when you can’t see your grades after every single assignment as you might have in high school. Midterms can serve as a checkpoint for you to reflect on everything you’ve learned thus far.

“​​Although stressful to me, midterms are rewarding in the sense that I can see how much I learned in just half of a semester,” CAS sophomore Ahla Khan said. “Seeing my own progress motivates me to want to learn more and review lessons and topics that I may have missed on the exam.” 

And finally, finals. Even though that season is far away, the practice that midterms provide will make it much easier to handle. Midterms give you a glimpse at how your professor will ask questions and what kind of content they deem important. That way, you won’t waste time studying things you won’t need and can spend more time dreaming about that January ski trip your friends have been planning.

“It’s helpful to see how the professor makes their exams and the level of difficulty they could be with how much material we learned,” CAS first-year Melaine Polanco said. “Also, after midterms, we’ve gone over the exam with my TA or professor, so it’s good to know what they want to see as answers for questions for the final.”

Your grade on the first major exam in a course has the power to determine how the rest of the semester, the following school year and even the rest of your college career will go. Don’t you want to get off to a good start? 

Of course, there are always downsides to large exams. If you find yourself struggling with your mental health during exam weeks, remember that you still deserve breaks. Take your time and study a little every day — maybe harder now, so you can finish deciding what Halloween costume you’ll wear to which outing in time. However, don’t forget to make time for yourself. Midterms are essential, but do what’s best for your mental health.

WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are solely the views of the writer.

Contact Molly Koch at [email protected].