6 Tips to Help Your Teen Study for Midterms

January brings a brand new year - and high school midterms. Use Mighty Mommy's 6 tips to help your teenager study for (and ace) this year's midterm exams.

Cheryl Butler
5-minute read
Episode #311


If you have a high schooler in your life, he or she is likely preparing for one of the most challenging times of the academic year—midterm exams.  Some students breeze right through this nerve-wracking period, but the majority of teens get a little (or a lot) stressed out trying to manage studying for multiple exams all at once. 

Mighty Mommy has 3 kids taking midterms this January and has been through this exam cycle many times. So today I've got 6 helpful tips to help you and your teenager gear up for midterms with minimal stress.


Tip #1: Help Your Teen Get Organized

Many schools have websites that offer helpful, constantly updated links for parents.  At the beginning of each school year, I visit the high school’s web site and familiarize myself with important dates. 

One of the keys to reduced stress and more efficient study habits is to help your child get organized before a big exam or project. If your child didn't do this at the beginning of the year, or started off strong but is now a bit scattered and disorganized, help him or her get back on track.

Sit down together and arrange their school binder by content. For example, put all quizzes under one tab, notes under another, handouts under another, and so on. Come up with the groupings that work best for your teen, so they will easily be able to grab whatever is needed for studying.

Also, does your child have a designated quiet place for studying? The kitchen island might be a bit too distracting, so suggest another spot in the house where there won't be temptations of TV, the internet, or even texting.

Tip #2: Don’t Procrastinate

Often teens wait until the last minute to cram for their exams, and while this might be a strategy that works for a select few, overall it’s not the most effective tactic for earning good grades.

Just to give you an example, among my 8 kids, 2 are straight-A students, 3 earn solid Bs (but not without trying really hard) and the other 3 have IEPs (Individual Education Plans) and require extra support because they learn differently than the average student. Basically, 6 of my 8 kids have to study hard to earn their good grades, therefore, planning time to study is essential.

As a parent, I aim to offer support wherever it is needed without hovering over my kids, especially if they function better independently. Because I have several kids that need help studying, we start by checking out our calendar to figure out how many days they have prior to midterms. Then, we set aside 45 minutes to an hour each day for reviewing handouts, memorizing materials, and even making games out of some of the subjects when we can. 

The key is to block off a little time each night the week leading up to the tests rather than trying to pull an all-nighter and cram everything in one shot the night before. If your child isn’t sure what material to use for studying, suggest that they ask each teacher the following:

  • Can we have a review sheet with a brief overview of the materials that will be covered on the test?

  • Will we do an in-class test review to help students prepare?

Tip #3: Drink Lots of Water

Don’t underestimate the power of staying hydrated!  According to an article in Psychology Today, water is an essential ingredient to our physical and mental well-being.  The article explains that our brains depend on proper hydration to function optimally.

Brain cells require a delicate balance of water and various elements to operate, and when you lose too much water, that balance is disrupted. Your brain cells can lose efficiency - which is a big problem if you need to study for exams..

You've probably noticed that when you're parched, you have more difficulty focusing. Dehydration can impair short-term memory function and the recall of long-term memory. The ability to perform mental arithmetic, like calculating whether or not you'll be late for work if you hit snooze for another 15 minutes, is compromised when your fluids are low. 

See also: How Much Water Should I Drink?


So one simple strategy for your student’s midterm success is to drink plenty of water before, during, and after the exam.  


About the Author

Cheryl Butler

Cheryl L. Butler is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. Call the Mighty Mommy listener line at 401-284-7575 to ask a parenting question. Your call could be featured on the show!