Figuring out a study method that woks best for you can take time. Time that you probably don’t want to waste. When I was in high school, we were never taught how to study. The teachers threw homework and tests at you and expected you to know how to prepare. Going straight to college after that was a nightmare. I had to learn how to study and fast. I also hear a lot of stories of people saying they got straight A’s through high school putting forth little to no effort and then, college hit them like a bus. It’s a hard transition, so I hope this helps a few of you. (This isn’t just for college students, obviously, anyone can use these.)
Now, before I get into the tips, I’d like to let you know that I did take a course last semester revolving entirely around becoming a “master student”. I thought it would be a waste of time, but it really did help me and taught me effective ways to study. I’m not saying I’m an expert, but I do know a few things about this topic.
Tip 1: The very first thing you should do is get a planner. If you use your planner effectively, it will help so much. I use a weekly planner, with monthly section as well. Write down all of your assignment, exam and study dates. It will keep you super organized. If a traditional planner doesn’t work for you, check out a few apps that you can download and use on your phone.
Tip 2: Do not cram, plan your study time. Seriously guys, cramming does more damage than good. Our body and brain needs a good night sleep and proper time to remember the information. You have to plan to study accordingly. Write down what day you want to study and for how long. Lets start with five to seven days before an exam. Study for twenty minuets the first day then each day decrease your time. Each day go over what you studied the day before. You’re exposing your memory to repetition, and that will get the important information lodged into your brain. Planning your study times will really help during finals week or a busy homework week. You’ll be able to get everything done without having to cram anything.
Tip 3: Have a suitable study space. You know yourself best. So if you need quiet, then find a quiet place. Be sure to check out your school’s library for study rooms, if you can’t be alone in your own room. Find which space works best for you and stick to it.
Tip 4: Take notes in class. Not really a “study” tip but you will need this to study effectively. All of my professors use power points during their lectures or later put them up online. Even if your prof puts them online later, still take notes during the lecture. You’re more than likely to forget to copy them down later. If your prof puts them online before class, try printing them off and adding notes during the lecture. Pay attention to what your prof says, if he says something more than once, its important. They are up there to teach us, so take advantage of the lecture and take notes.
Tip 5: Flash cards. Turn your notes into flash cards. This is the best way I learn material. Our memory works best with repetition. So first we hear the information from our prof, we write it down during class, write it down again when making flash cards, and then speaking them out loud when flipping through them. All of that will help get the info into your long term memory better. Flash cards are convenient to flip through when you have an extra five minuets before class or while you’re waiting on the bus, or any quick free time. There is also a really cool website called Quizlet. It’s pretty much an electric way to make flash cards, you can type in the info and it will make the cards for you and you just flip through them online. I’m pretty sure (not 100%) that you can also download an app and log into that and you’ll have all of your flash cards there. So that way it’s still convenient.
Tip 6: If you have to read your text books, take notes. Personally, I think using a text book is the hardest way to study. But, if your prof doesn’t put the info online then I understand. What you can do is find a way to take effective notes that let you quickly find all the important information. There are many different methods to taking notes. I used to think just writing stuff down was the best, but I was wrong. My favorite is the Cornell style, there is also an outline, and a mapping method. Click here to see all these methods and more. Once you do get all of the info, I suggest turning that into flash cards.
Tip 7: Read your syllabus and then read it again. Honestly, any question you have will more than likely be answered here. Also, reading it will again help you plan accordingly.
Tip 8: Form a study group. Obviously, as human beings we are all different from each other. We all learn and study differently. So find a group or even one person who studies the same way you do. This will make sure your study time is spent efficiently and produce the best results. There are many websites out there to determine what kind of learner you are, finding out which will be super beneficial.
Tip 9: Reward yourself with breaks. Our brains work best in small increments. So make your flash cards, then watch an episode of your favorite show. Just be sure to actually come back to your work and not finish a whole series. Reward yourself with snacks or candy. Anything to get you motivated.
Tip 10: Use online resources. There are so many websites out there that can help, especially if you feel like your prof hardly teaches. Watch videos, look at picture, read websites. Anything that will help you study and find information for your exam.
Tip 11: Cramming. I have no tips to help you cram. I strongly advise you stay away from it. All that caffeine and sleepless nights isn’t good for your body. Take care of yourself and try your hardest to avoid cramming.
Tip 12: Relax. Take a deep breath. You are going to kick that exams butt. Fill yourself with confidence right before your exam. Do not go in there thinking you will fail. Walk into the room knowing that you will ace this exam. Trust that all of your hard work will pay off.
Good luck to anyone studying for an exam! I hope this helped!
Remember that all of these tips are just tools that you may or may not use. Not all of these will work for everyone, you have to find out what works for. Trial and error will come in handy and hopefully some of these tips will too.