Whether you believe it or not, not everyone knows how to study effectively. Different methods work for different people, but I think my method is fool-proof, and I mean that in the most humble way possible. I’ve mastered studying during my college career. Even though my habits have proven to be effective, studying can still be overwhelming, because there’s so much information to intake (some less important than others). I can provide you with study tips, but disclaimer, I cannot make it less overwhelming.
1. Pre-Organization will Save You
Now, you don’t have to buy tons of supplies to get organized. Obviously, you need pens/pencils. If you write in notebooks, make sure each class has a designated book. If you write on folder sheets/loose leaf paper, get binders! Get a planner/agenda so you can write down assignments and due dates. Take a day to sit down and input important dates from your syllabi into your planner. Use a pencil because they’re subject to change.
2. Studying Begins in the Classroom/ Lecture Hall
Whatever the setting may be, good study habits start in your class/lecture/lab. Always be prepared with a notebook/binder, pens, and pencils. Forget your laptop, unless your penmanship is illegible (to yourself). Laptops are a distraction, I don’t care what anyone says. If you’re sitting in a three-hour lecture, you’re going to end up “surfing the web” or checking your social media at some point. Leave your laptop in your bag, especially if you have a Mac and an iPhone since you can check your messages via your computer. It’s best to avoid distractions. So, don’t check your phone either. Better yet, turn it off.
Listen and WRITE your notes. In my opinion, it forces you to listen more intently, so you’re not just typing up random words you hear. Use different colors if you have to (I like to use two: blue and black), one for main topics, the other for sub-topics, and a pencil for significant, but less relevant information and examples. Learn to summarize and use bullet points.
3. Create your Own Examples (if applicable)
This is still a part of taking notes, but it’s something that’s benefited me especially. When your prof offers an example to a concept, write that and your own example down. It’ll be easier to recall and understand since the example is relevant to you.
4. Review Notes After Class
I haven’t completely mastered this tip yet. I’ve never gotten to the level where I was reviewing notes after every single class. Sometimes it’d be during the night, before bed. Sometimes it’d be the next day or before the next class. Regardless, not waiting until you have an exam, test, quiz, or project due is key. Be proactive.
5. Make Your Own Notes
Sometimes you have too many reading assignments at once, and you’re trying to figure out “how the heck am I going to remember even a quarter of this?” The answer is not to highlight everything. The answer is to create your own notes. Yes, notes outside of lecture notes. Go the extra mile, my friend. It’s a tedious process, but it’ll be worth it during the next class when you realize you understand what the prof is talking about. Also, you’ll be able to better contribute to class discussion, yay for participation points. Patricipationnnnn *Spongebob voice*
6. Talk to Yourself & Re-Write
When I study, I need to talk to myself. Talking to myself helps me to reiterate what I’ve been reading and writing notes about. It’s my method of checking in. Once I can explain something to myself, I know I’m good. I know I got it. If I’m really struggling with something, or there’s a massive amount of material, I like to re-write things. This tip is entirely optional, because it’s tedious as heck, I know.
7. Study Before You Get a Buddy
Having someone to study for exams with are great, but it’s better to have a grasp on the material before you get together with your bud. Make sure you understand the majority so you can avoid having to learn things for most of the sessions. In my opinion, studying with a buddy should be more focused on reviewing than intense studying.
Study buddies are also great because you can learn things from them. Maybe they have a mnemonic device you can utilize, or they understood something you didn’t and can explain it to you. Study buddies also make studying less stressful because you know you’re not in it alone. Be prepared for it to take longer than your usual study sessions, though. Sometimes it’s easier to get distracted when you’re studying with another person, especially if you’re close friends.
8. Take a Break
Sitting down and studying consecutively for eight hours can be counterproductive. After a while, your head just won’t be in the game. Breaks are necessary. Get up, walk around, listen to some music, talk to a friend, etc. Make sure the break isn’t longer than thirty minutes.
9. Put Your Phone Away
Yes, this is probably one of the hardest things to do, but it’s necessary. Set a timer on your phone, before you start studying, so that you don’t have to check the time when you think it’s time for a break. Keep your phone as far away from you as possible. If you’re in the library and you’re trying to keep quiet, sit near a clock in the library, so you’re aware of the time. Turn your phone off or delete your social media apps if you need it with you.
10. Don’t Procrastinate
Last, but certainly not least, try not to wait until the last minute. The more time you dedicate to studying, the better the results. Procrastination often leads to all-nighters, but you need your rest so that your mind is clear and focused.
Bonus: Treat Yo’ Self
Give yourself something to look forward to after a long study session. Whether that be a well-deserved nap, a slice of pizza, a night out with friends, a night of Netflix, or even a long, hot shower, you’ll be more motivated to finish studying. Your treat will be well deserved. Work hard so you can relax at the end of the day.