Finals are just around the corner, and you know what that means. It is time to study. Look I get it, we’re in college. At this point we should know how to study, that doesn’t mean we all know how to study well. I’ll admit it, my first year of college I didn’t have a solid study plan. I had to stumble my way through it. You know what? I stumbled my way onto some pretty good tips. I’ll share them with you,because I wish someone shared them with me.
1: Give yourself time
It is very easy to underestimate how much time you should spend studying before an exam. I cannot give you a recommended amount of time to study. It varies from person to person and class to class. However I can explain how long I study in hopes it will help you.
I like to give myself 1 more day than the number of chapters that I need to know for the exam. For example if chapters 1-4 are on the exam, then I am studying for 5 days. I think doing a chapter day is an easy way for me to ration it out, and I have spare day to go over anything that I’m struggling with or just review all of the chapters. If the class is really difficult, and I have been struggling with it all semester, then I double the time I spend studying. Even if I feel confident in the material, I do my best to study at minimum 3 days. It is very easy to think you know everything, so taking the time to review your notes really can open your eyes to somethings you may have forgotten.
2: Note Cards
Note cards are my savior. You can do so much with them. A majority of the classes I have taken so far, I have used notecards. They’re just so versatile. Got a math exam coming up? Put all the formulas on some notecards. Have a test on fallacies next week? Slap the straw man onto a notecard. Need to know art works from the Greek Archaic period? Get ready to draw the Gigantomachy. I cannot put into words how helpful they are.
Now I know that quizlet is popular, but I honestly feel like making notecards by hand helped me learn the material faster than quizlet. There is just something about having to write something down for the second time (3rd if I’m using pen and I messed up) that really makes it click in my brain, and maybe it’ll click in your brain too.
3: Study Group
I know some people work best alone, but if I learned anything from life, it is that we can create something better together. A study group is so powerful when everything falls into place.
First I recommend finding “the right people.” The right people can again vary from person to person and class to class. My biggest requirement for people in my study group? You have to want to study! If someone isn’t interested in studying, then they shouldn’t be in a study group. You’ll also probably want people in your group that you get along with. It would also be helpful if your schedules align.
Next I recommend finding “the right place.” Lucky for you, Lied Library so many places to study! I recommend the study rooms on the first floor, because they’re easily accessible AND you can reserve them ahead of time.
Actually studying with a group can be difficult if no one knows where to start. I recommend either starting at the beginning and working your way up or starting at the most recent material and working your way back.
If you’re a group of three I have another tip that might help you. This strategy works best after you all have done some review. Whoever is the most confident in the material will start as the explainer. They will explain a concept from the material. If you were in biology and going over mitosis, they could explain one of the phases. The person who feels the least confident can be the listener. Their only job is to listen to the explainer. The last person is the scribe. Their job is to take notes on what the explainer is saying.You can either time this and switch every 10 minutes, or switch after the explainer has finished their explanation. Once it’s time to switch, the explainer will become the listener; the listener becomes the scribe, and the scribe becomes the explainer.
4: Take Breaks!!!
Studying is important, but it is also important to give your brain break every now and then. There are a couple of different ways I use to determine if I need to have a break. If I started studying at 8am and now it is suddenly 12pm, it is time for a break. There is nothing wrong with losing track of time, I do it all the time. If it has been a couple hours since you started then take a break. If you become really hungry or tired, it is time for a break. You could also set an alarm. I typically set mine to go off after 75 minutes. My default way to know when to take a break is with a playlist. I have a playlist that has bunch of orchestral music (it helps me focus) on it. I also have 3 random pop songs tossed in there. Everytime a pop song come on I take a break.
For me, an ideal break is about 15 minutes long. It is enough time for me to go grab a snack and do some stretches. When taking a break I recommend actually getting up and walking away from your study space. If you stay in the same spot you might not actually take a break, or you will have a harder time picking up where you left off.
For you the times might vary a little or a lot, which is fine. Everyone is different.
5: The Point of No More
Whenever I talk to people about studying, they always seemed surprised when I bring up the point of no more. For me, the point of no more is an hour and a half before the exam. I personally feel that no matter how I study in that time before the exam, it doesn’t help me. I don’t think it has hurt me, but it definitely does not help me.
A hour before the exam, my brain goes into panic mode. There is no way to add anymore information to it while in panic mode. I spend the hour and a half up to the exam relaxing. I know for sure taking the exam stressed will not help me, so I spend this time relaxing a little for all the hard studying I did.
Daria Dixon, Junior
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
High School: Northwest Career and Technical Academy
Major: Graphic Design