Study Tips for the Successful Student

dog-734689_640Hey Everyone!

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.

Before Class

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.

Exam Time:

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!

With Love,

Yasmin

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Six Back to School Tips

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

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In the spirit of back to school season I wanted to share some of my personal tips on how to make the transition back to school as smooth and hassle-free as possible. I created these tips with the college student in mind however, I hope that these tips will be hopeful for students at all levels.

Map it Out

If its your first time attending the college, or if you attend a large university, it might be a good idea to find the location of your classes before classes start. Most universities are always open in the sense that you are free to walk around and find your classes the day before or even a few days before they start.  The first week can be very hectic so its nice to have one less thing to worry about. I personally consider myself directionally challenged so this is a tip that I definitely always used when beginning a new set of classes!

Read the Syllabus

So this is a tip that every professor is going to encourage you to follow. The syllabus is a document, created by the professor, that basically explains the format and layout of the course and most importantly, it almost always includes a section about how the course grade will be calculated.  The syllabus also contains a section on how you can best reach the professor if you ever need to contact him or her. A lot of the questions that you may have about the course structure will be covered in the syllabus so I would definitely recommend saving a copy of the syllabus on your phone or laptop.

Buy Textbooks/Materials

Another great reason to read the course syllabus is that it often includes details about the required textbook and any other required materials. If you are going to order your textbook and/or other required course materials online its a good idea to order them as soon as possible because sometimes shipping can take a while.

I personally loved using DealOz for purchasing my textbooks because all you have to do is enter the book’s title, author, or ISBN number and this site will search through the web and find the best deals for best new, best used, and best rental price for the book that you need.

Almost all colleges and universities have a college bookstore. Purchasing from the college bookstore is often convenient but costly. Also, check to see if there are any local bookstores that are competing with your college bookstore and these stores may have the textbooks that you need for a cheaper price then the college bookstore. However, in my experience textbooks sold online are almost always cheaper.

If the course requires you to purchase scantrons or booklets for exams I would recommend purchasing those in the first week just to get them over with and have one less thing to worry about when its exam time.

Start Studying

From my experience, most of my fellow students always started studying only a few days before the exam if not the night before. I would definitely recommend studying as soon as possible and especially after every lecture when the material is still fresh in your mind. With this method you only have to study a few minutes each day instead of trying to cram all the material before the exam. Cramming the material before the exam can become very stressful and you are much more likely to really understand the material if you spend a few minutes studying it each day.

Take a nap

Many students often sacrifice their sleep in order to fit in enough time for their academic and/or social life. Some students even brag about pulling an all-nighter. The reality is that sleep is vital not only to our physical health but it is also very important in making us cognitively awake and alert which can help us perform better academically.

As someone who is a recent graduate I know that sometimes life gets too busy and we simply don’t have time to get the required seven or eight hours of sleep. However, in order to avoid feeling burned out or tired feel free to take a nap ideally for around 30 minutes a day. Research shows that a quick daytime nap can reenergize us without harming the amount or quality of the sleep that we get at night.

Stay Positive

It is totally common to be a little nervous at the beginning of each school year whether it is because you are starting a new school or you are taking a class or classes that you feel are challenging. I know it might be intimidating to ask a teacher or professor for help but there are there to help you and the majority of them are very happy to help. Always try to stay positive and remember that with hard work and determination you can excel in any class!

I hope you all find these tips to be helpful!

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

 

Five Tips for Becoming a More Effective Reader

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well! book-1867716_640

Back to school season is upon us! I can’t believe how fast the summer is flying by! For me it feels kind of weird and exciting because this will be the first back to school season in which I will not be in school or university because I graduated this past June.

Anyways, in my many years as a student I always struggled to keep up with the assigned readings because I always felt that I would forget everything I had read by the time exams were coming up.

Throughout my college years my Psychology professors really encouraged us to use the SQ3R method as a technique for helping us remember many of the important things we were reading in the textbooks.  The SQ3R method consists of the following five steps: Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review.

Survey

Before you start reading simply open to the assigned pages and casually skim through them to get an overall view of how the information is being presented. If possible read the chapter summary, look at the chapter introduction, headings and subheadings.

Question

Look at each subsection and try to come up with questions that you think will be answered in that subsection. Try asking yourself questions such as: What is this section about? How can this information help me? How does this information relate to other things that I have learned? Try to keep these questions in mind as you read that section and of course, as you are reading you may come up with even more questions. The reason why this step is helpful is because the more actively your mind searches for answers the more engaged you become in the learning process.

Read

When it is finally time to read, try to answer the questions that you have created as you read each section. Also, try to relate this new information with things you’ve learned before.

Recite

After you have finished reading each section try to remember (create a written and/or mental list) of the main ideas discussed in each section. If there is a particular section for which you cannot remember the main idea then try to go back and reread that section. It is very important not to move on until you can remember that sections main ideas.

Review

Finally, go back through all of the questions you created and see if you can still answer them. If necessary go back and refresh your memory.

Why is the SQ3R method effective?

The SQ3R method is effective thanks to a phenomenon social scientists and education researchers refer to as the testing effect. According to the testing effect, long term retention of material is better when you test yourself while you are learning the material versus just studying the material over and over again.

Sometimes we might read something and feel like the material is familiar and we may feel overconfident about how much we understand what we just read. Its important to remember that just because you can recognize something as being familiar as you read it, doesn’t mean that you will be able to choose the correct answer from several similar or familiar concepts on a multiple choice test.  Of course, on a written exam it is even harder because simply recognizing things doesn’t help, you actually have to recall the information.

Overall, the SQ3R has been supported by research as an effective study technique because it forces you to remember the main ideas and answers on your own which in turn makes you much more prepared to take the exam.

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

 

Book Reflections: Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

I just finished reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Sheryl Sandberg is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and she is considered by many to be one of the most powerful people at Facebook after Mark Zuckerberg.

Her book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead is all about empowering women to reach their full potential in the workplace. In this book she really goes in-depth to describe some of the psychological, sociological, and personal reasons why women do not reach higher positions in the workforce.

I don’t want to give away too much of the book but this is really a book that not only encourages women to reach for higher positions in their respective jobs but it is a book that encourages and empowers women to reach for the highest level positions available in their jobs. She gives many helpful tips and useful advice based on her many years of experience first working at the U.S. Treasury, then at Google, and now at Facebook.

As someone who studied psychology I really appreciate the fact that throughout the book she really used a lot of examples of studies, examples, and concepts relating to psychology and the social sciences in general to demonstrate some of the points that she is making.

I also really appreciate the fact that this book is written by a woman who has truly reached her so rightly deserved position as COO of Facebook through many years of hard work and dedication. Her story may not be a rags to riches story but there is no doubt that she has worked hard to reach the level that she has. In other words, I think that she certainly does have the credibility to write and speak about such issues as women in the workforce.

In my opinion one of the most profound tips that Sandberg gives in this book is to always ask ourselves what would we do if we were not afraid? This rings so true for myself and I am sure for many others. We so often limit ourselves because of fear. This includes many different types of fear such as fear of what others will think and fear of failure.

I would definitely recommend this book to any woman who has a job or is looking for one and in fact I would also recommend this book to all the amazing men out there who support the progression of women in the workforce.

With Love,

Yasmin

The One Book That Will Change Your Life

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re doing well!

Throughout my life as a student I have had to read many books and novels. However, the book that has had the greatest positive impact in my everyday life is The How of Happiness by Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky. This was an assigned reading for one of my psychology courses and it was definitely a worthwhile read that I would highly recommend to everyone!

HappyIMG_2953

The How of Happiness is a self-help book that teaches you how to work towards becoming a happier person. However, what separates this book from the hundreds of other similar books is that this particular book is based on real scientific research that has been conducted on this topic.

Basically, this self-help book is very accurate and reliable because at its core it is based on scientific research. The author herself is a University Lecturer and researcher at the University of California Riverside.

The key idea of this book is that happiness is something that can be attained by actively working towards achieving it. The author points out her research that shows 50 percent of our happiness is based on our genetics, 10 percent of our happiness is based on our life situations (such as whether we are rich or poor; healthy or unhealthy etc.) and most importantly 40 percent of our happiness is based on our own thoughts and behaviors (which we can change).

The purpose of this book is to help you take advantage of this 40 percent that is within our control. The author presents and describes 12 different happiness enhancing strategies. however, not every strategy will work for every individual. This is why the author provides the reader with a (very simple) diagnostic self-test to determine which two or three strategies will work best for him or her.

After determining which strategies will work best for you, you can go to the chapters on those strategies in order to start implementing them in your life. Or you can read about all 12 strategies and see if you would benefit from them. The strategies include:

  1. Expressing Gratitude
  2. Cultivating Optimism
  3. Avoiding Overthinking and Social Comparison
  4. Practicing Acts of Kindness
  5. Nurturing Social Relationships
  6. Developing Strategies for Coping
  7. Learning to Forgive
  8. Increasing Flow
  9. Savoring Life’s Joys
  10. Committing to your Goals
  11. Practicing Religion and Spirituality
  12. Taking Care of Your Body

Some of these strategies may sound too easy or too cheesy however, in the last part of the book the author explains how and why these strategies work. This book also contains a special section with tips for those that may be feeling depressed.

Overall, this book is written in a manner that is very easy to read and understand. I have learned so much from this book and from the bottom of my heart I hope that each person that reads this post will also read this great book and hopefully go on their own personal journey to living a happier and more fulfilling life.

With Love,

Yasmin