Hope you’re all doing well!
For many students, this time of the year marks the start of a new academic semester or quarter.
Being a successful student definitely requires a lot of hard work. Part of this hard work consists of studying for tests. In order to get the best grades possible, it is really helpful to have some good studying strategies. The following is just a short list of possible study strategies to hopefully help you earn the best grade possible.
If you’re a new student to the campus, I would definitely recommend taking some time a day or two before classes begin to walk around campus and find the exact location of your classes just so you don’t have to worry about it during the first day of class. I personally attended UC Irvine which has a fairly large campus so at the beginning of each and every quarter I would go and find the location of my classes because it just relieved me of additional stress.
Throughout my educational life many of my teachers and professors have encouraged us students to read the textbook before class. Many of us often ignore this piece of advice. However, I think that even if you don’t read the whole chapter or section of the textbook you should at least open up the textbook. Just try to scan the major topics by reading the title of each section.
Many textbooks have bolded or highlighted words and sections so try to briefly review those areas as well. All you have to do is get a basic idea of what topics will be discussed in class.
During Class: I know that this sounds really obvious but try your best to really pay attention in class. If necessary, turn off your smartphone. Really try to absorb everything the instructor is saying. If you scanned the textbook the night before then you will hopefully be somewhat familiar with the topics.
Taking notes is essential. Many instructors nowadays have PowerPoint or other material that they can place on a screen for the whole class to view. However, these may not contain all the information or some areas may be rather vague. It is your job as a student to really take good notes. You don’t have to write every word down rather just try to get the main ideas. If the instructor does use PowerPoint quickly skim the slide and see what you don’t understand or what is missing and try to fill it in with what the instructor verbally states.
Many students at my university have laptops. I see quite a number of students scrolling through their social media sites or their favorite online stores during lectures. If you do this on a regular basis you are truly doing a disservice to yourself. You could potentially miss out on valuable information that might be on the test. Also, if you’re a university student who has to pay for their education (as is the case here in the United States) you are literally wasting your money if you don’t pay attention in class.
After Class: During the student orientation of my university one of the professors was giving us his study tips and one of the things that he said was: “The time you should start studying is immediately after class”. Although this may not be possible for everyone I think that he makes a very important point. You should definitely try to study as soon as possible when the material is still fresh in your mind and studying during this time will further cement the information in your brain.
Don’t Procrastinate: Most students have several classes to study for. Undoubtedly some classes will be harder than others. However, it is very important that you set aside a specific amount of time dedicated to studying every day. Also, you can use your own judgment to decide how long you should study for each class. As a general rule for every hour of lecture you should study two hours outside of class during the whole week. As a psychology major one of the things that I learned in my human memory course is that in order to best absorb the material it is not just enough to spend a lot of time right before the test to review the material. Rather, the best strategy is to spend frequent intervals of time studying the material. Basically, rather than studying for a test in one cram study session it is best to spread out your study time.
Break it into Pieces Let’s say you have to memorize something like the periodic table for a test. It is very helpful to break it up and try to memorize a few columns or rows at a time. Each day make sure that you have really learned the previous days’ material before going on.
Reviewing Notes While reviewing your notes it might be helpful to bring a few extra pieces of paper and a pen and start re-writing the most difficult parts of your notes. I have heard from many people who swear by this strategy. In fact, research does support this idea.
Avoid Distraction and Block Noise: Nowadays, for many students their smartphone is most often a huge source of distraction. As a good student, do whatever you have to in order to avoid the large number of distractions that can arise from your smartphone. I understand that you can’t just turn it off all the time but try keep it at a distance and only quickly check for calls or important texts at set intervals of time. If your phone has a Do Not Disturb or a similar option consider using it to limit distractions.
Ideally, I would recommend studying in a quiet location such as a library. However, sometimes this is just not possible. When I was a student, sometimes even studying in my own bedroom was a challenge because my teenage brothers would be making a lot of noise across the hall. One possible solution would be to invest in purchasing noise-cancelling headphones. I personally have not tried these so I can’t give you a recommendation but I have found a great review of some of these
Reviews.com has a really informative review of 13 well-known headphones and in their review, they share their top two choices. What makes their review especially credible is that they have consulted with audio engineers and audiologists and they took many factors such as the right way of blocking sound, the sound quality, comfort and the right fit into consideration.
Chill Out After a period of studying give yourself a break. Get a bite to eat. Try to get some fresh air. Try to do something that is truly relaxing for you. Just a word of caution, be careful with YouTube. If you’re like me and you love YouTube one “quick” video can lead to many others and before you know it you’ve gone well past your rest period.
Sleep Whenever you have an exam coming up make sure that you get plenty of sleep the night before. College students sometimes take pride in “pulling an all nighter”. They think that they have done something great by studying instead of sleeping. However, research has shown that not getting enough sleep can lead to a decrease in performance and an increase in stress.
When it’s exam time, aside from studying, there are a few things that you can do the night before to ease the process. If you will be using a scantron, fill out your name and any other details on the scantron the night before. Also, pack your scantron, pens, pencils, erasers and any other things you may need into your bag so you don’t forget them in the morning. While you’re at it, pick out your wardrobe the night before just so its ready and you don’t have to worry about it!