Studying is one of the most important parts of college. You will spend many hours of your college days doing just that, like it or not. Your academic success depends on it.
But, are you studying correctly? Many students from high school head into college with absolutely no idea how to study for an exam. If you want to succeed, you have to have some study techniques to help you out!
In this spirit, I gathered the best study tips to help you ace your college exams!
Cramming up the night before a big exam will do you no good, I can guarantee it. Trust me, #beentheredonethat. Even if you have attended every class, there’s no way you’ll be able to memorize all the material on time.
Instead of waiting until the last minute to study, try to prepare in advance. This way, you will be able to give your brain a break and to adapt to your learning pace! You’ll feel less overwhelmed, as you’ll have time to prepare. This will also give you extra time to revise more difficult concepts. Extra time to study? How awesome is that? I suggest you start studying at least a week before the exam. The earlier the better, in my opinion. To help ensure you will be able to get ready on time, I suggest creating a study schedule. Divide the content you’re learning into units and put them in a realistic timetable. Depending on how much time you have left before the exam, write down what you need to schedule each day, and how much time you need to dedicate to it.
ORGANIZATION IS KEY
I cannot stress this enough. You don’t need to be an organization freak. No need to plan out your entire week hour by hour
(but feel free to do so if you prefer it this way), just set times in your weekly schedule to study – and stick to it! I suggest studying a little every day, but maybe your schedule doesn’t give you the opportunity to do so. If you start early, you can already schedule specific times to study (maybe you’re more productive in the morning? Or at night?) and make sure you’re ready in time for your exam! Your schedule can get a bit hectic in college, especially around midterms and finals, so make sure you block some time for studying and homework!
Try to avoid procrastination. I know it can be hard (I’m the queen of procrastination), but try to put studying first. Get it out of the way so you can do something fun afterward! You have to learn how to prioritize. My tip with this is to just don’t think about it and dive into it! The hardest part is getting started. Once you’ll have dived into your textbooks, the task won’t seem as dreadful!
LEARN HOW YOU STUDY
Everyone is different. Maybe your best friend learns everything by heart, maybe your roommate likes to reread her class notes, maybe your friend likes flashcards. Find what works for you.
Personally, I start off by rewriting my notes. This helps me go over the content, identify what’ s important and organize my notes. After, I simply read over the content a few times, and try to start learning the important stuff. Most of my classes require only general comprehension of the subject, but I still try to learn the key concepts, such as definitions.
The important thing is to study accordingly to what is going to be in the exam! If it’s more of a technical test, where you have to know all the key concepts and explain them, then you should probably try to learn by heart, but if the exam asks more open questions, then only general knowledge is usually required. See what the teacher asks of you and study in consequence, with the technique that works for you!
Create a study guide
One of my favorite techniques when it comes to studying is to create a study guide. That’s the best way to make sure you study all of your class’s content. If you’re lucky enough, maybe your professor will already have created one for you. Maybe you’ll simply have to fill it out. In that case, use it! That’s your number one tool to ensure your success in this exam! But most of the time, the teacher won’t give you a damn thing. So you have to figure it out yourself.
Start off by skimming through the material you’ve seen this semester: anything that you might have seen in class can help you create your study guide. You don’t necessarily want to reread everything. You simply want to get familiar with the content before diving in. find the most important concepts you’ve seen in class. Your study guide shouldn’t be including everything you’ve seen because not everything is going to be on the exam! Instead, focus on key points and concepts. This will help you create a general picture of what you’ve seen in class throughout the semester. Your study guide should contain only the most important concepts you’ve seen in class during the semester. It’s not just a rewritten version of your class notes.
Need more info on how to create the perfect study guide for every exam? I wrote a post on The Happy Arkansan just about that topic!
This is really important. How are you supposed to be productive and study efficiently if you keep being distracted by your cellphone or Facebook? My tip is: turn your phone off. Turn your laptop off too, unless you actually need it to study. Don’t even open Facebook or any other social media that might distract you. There are actually apps and websites that help you stay focused while you study, so if you know that you might be tempted, seek them out!
Also, let’s talk about music. While for some people music helps them concentrate, I strongly suggest you do not listen to anything while you study. If you absolutely must, try some instrumental songs. Lyrics might actually distract you since you might be listening to the lyrics more than you’re focusing on studying.
Try not to overload your brain. Working for hours straight won’t help you. Instead, separate your studying times into small slots. For example, I like to study for around 50 minutes to an hour, and then take a 10-15 minute break. I have found that I’m more productive when I take breaks every once in a while than when I work without stopping. Taking a break gives you an opportunity to breathe and think about something else for a few minutes.
Also, try to make those breaks productive! Go around for a walk, drink some water or eat a (healthy) snack. Reward yourself for all the work accomplished so far and give your brain energy to continue!
As I just mentioned, rewarding yourself is important. It gives you extra motivation to continue on the path you’re on. It’s often overlooked, but I think it’s one of the most important things. If you need a kick in the ass to start studying for your exam, break down the content into small sections and reward yourself after each is done. For example, let’s say that “when I finish studying this chapter, I’m going to watch an episode of my favorite tv show“. Like this, you will not only be more inclined to stay focused while you’re studying, but you’ll also be giving yourself a break! And don’t forget to reward yourself once the exam is over! TREAT YO’ SELF! (if you know that reference, I love you)
What are your studying tips?