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What are Midterm Grades? A Student’s Guide

Midterm grades can be concerning if you have never experienced them before. Midterm grades help you gauge your academic progress halfway through the semester, and serve as an indicator for your academic performance in a class. Sometimes midterm grades are a wake-up call if you have not been studying or they can provide a reality check so you can determine whether the study skills you have used are working well. 

If you are not achieving at the level you want to be when you receive your midterm grades, the good news is that you still have time to improve both your grade and your understanding of the course material. If you are on target with where you want to be or even exceeding your own expectations, take a moment and celebrate because your efforts so far are working! 


Midterm grades are not: 

  • Reported on your permanent record. They are not included on your transcript and will not prevent you from getting into the graduate program of your dreams. 
  • Indicative of your final course grade. Use them as a progress report to guide your plan for the second half of the semester. If you have a high midterm grade, you could still do poorly in a class if you do not keep up your efforts. If you have a low midterm grade, you could still do well in the class if you change what you are doing to be successful. 

What can I do to improve if I do not have the grade I want?

Reflect on what you have done so far: 

    • What study strategies and habits are working for me? 
    • Am I spending enough time studying and working with the material for this class?
    • What percentage of my grade can I still earn? 
    • What are my areas of growth? 
    • What obstacles are getting in my way? 
    • What resources on campus have I used to improve this grade? 

Change what is not working:

    • Check your syllabus–look at it again! You may see that only 10% of your coursework has been assessed so far which could help you improve your grade dramatically. 
    • Reach out to your professor during office hours. Use the information in your syllabus to set up a meeting with your professor to discuss what grade you could realistically end up with and how you can move forward. Come prepared with questions, and ask questions as a follow-up. Remember: your professors want you to learn and succeed.
    • Meet with a Teaching Assistant or Course Embedded Tutor. These trained peers can help you brainstorm and develop ways you can be successful in the second half of your semester, such as creating plans to improve your study habits, note- and test-taking skills, and time management strategies; enhancing class participation; breaking procrastination habits, and increasing motivation to improve. 
      You could also schedule a meeting with someone from the Office of Academic Advising to assist with these skills. 

Use Campus Resources:

    • Did you reach out to your professor?
      You should reach out to your professor.
    • Meet with your Academic Advisor or the Academic Advising Office.
      They can discuss campus resources or offer suggestions about how to improve. Meeting with an Advisor is vital if you are considering withdrawing from a course. Your Advisor will help you determine the benefits and consequences of withdrawing from a course in light of your degree plan. 
    • Schedule an appointment with Counseling and Consultation Services.
      Higher education can be stressful! The caring staff at CCS can help you develop coping strategies as well as help you learn to manage stress . 
    • Attend Tutoring.
      Tutoring services offer students space to cultivate their course knowledge, and tutors provide guidance on the best strategies for learning within different majors. See more about tutoring opportunities at IWU on this page. 
    • Use The Writing Center.
      The Writing Center is open for consultations! The Writing Center exists to help students realize their individual potential and to bolster confidence in every person’s ability to write clearly and well by developing the critical thinking skills and spirit of inquiry that enable effective communication.