A First-Year’s Guide: 3 Types Of Midterms You Will Encounter


Fall semester midterms are the first serious evaluation of the school year and chances are, when you hear the word “midterms,” you think “exam,” right? In fact, there are many different types of midterm evaluations and each should be handled differently.

To help you make the grade, here’s a quick breakdown of the 3 main types of midterms and what to expect.

Formal Exam

exam hallThe formal exam is a midterm classic. They are usually held in a classroom or lecture hall and are roughly two to three hours long. The professor and/or the teaching assistant will be present to moderate the exam and answer any questions you may have. These are typically closed-book evaluations, but you may be allowed a cheat sheet of a specific dimension depending on your professor’s instructions.

Formal exams can be stressful, but remember – the weight of a midterm exam is not the only factor determining your overall grade.

Take-Home Exam

papersTake-home exams are like formal exams, except you complete them at home instead of on campus. They can come in a variety of formats depending on the subject, but are typically composed of essay or short-answer questions. Some professors have their students complete their take-home exams online at a specific date and time, while others give their students a few days or weeks to complete the exam and submit it.

Regardless of the structure, it’s still important to treat it as seriously as you would a formal exam. The fact that you’re at home doesn’t mean you can take it easy! Make sure you give yourself enough time to complete the assignment and ask for clarification if needed.

Essay Evaluation

girl studyingLike take-home exams, essay evaluations are usually done at home with the added bonus of getting the topics or questions ahead of time.

While this may seem like the easiest type of midterm, remember: more preparation time means your professors will have higher expectations for your assignment. As a result, this is one type of midterm exam that you don’t want to leave to the last minute. Give yourself ample time to develop a thesis and write a well-researched and structured essay.

Midterms come in various shapes and sizes, but there’s no need to stress! As long as you’re organized and prepared, you’ll be sure to do just fine.

Have any tips for tackling these types of midterms? Leave a comment below!