Friday, November 22, 2013

Lizzy's Top 10 Study Tips

          Research papers, quizzes, exams, readings, and projects.  The many reasons why college students don't have social lives.  If I didn't have to be responsible and do homework all the time, I'd probably have a lot more free time to finish all seven seasons of West Wing on Netflix to go out.  However, as much as I'd love to make homework illegal; I can't.  I can, nevertheless, give you a few study tips that have made my college career much easier.

1// Take 10-minute breaks ever 50 minutes
          If you start studying at 1, stay focused until 1:50, and then do something else from then to 2.  This helps create a structured schedule if you have to study for a long period of time.  (These time increments work best for me, but they may not fit you.  Make sure to experiment with how long you can sit without becoming tired or drained.)

2// Listen to music that doesn't have words
          As much fun as it is to blare One Direction or Ke$ha through your headphones, it's going to cause you to become a lot more unfocused.  It will also hurt your capability of retaining the information that you're studying.  Don't worry about spending money on a whole new iTunes playlist, though.  If you go to Pandora and start a playlist based on the artist 'Yiruma', you'll be set.  Add variety like 2Cellos, Lindsey Stirling, and The Piano Guys for a banging' study radio station.

          When studying (especially for Spanish) notecards are my best friends.  Quizlet electronically makes your notecards and has a lot of different options for retainment.  One option actually makes you type out the word so if spelling is a necessity; you're set.  Also, since it's electronic, you can buy the phone app and do some last minute cramming on your way to class like I did today! :)

4// Have a go-to study spot
          I know a lot of people say that alternating between study spots is a good idea, and I still think that's great too!  I have a lot of different spots I like to go to.  Make sure, however, that you have that place where you know you will get stuff done.  It doesn't even have to be the place you study most often!  For me, my place is the corner desk on the second-floor of the library.  Sure, I love studying at Barnes and Noble and Starbucks, and I study at those places most often; but when I sit down at that corner desk I know that it's study time.  Have that special place where you go ONLY to study, and not where you routinely do other things.  That way, no matter how crazy everything else gets, you'll know that as soon as you sit down; work will be done.

5// Make sure you don't just sit
          Make sure you actually get-up and walk around during your breaks.  This will help get oxygen to your brain and make you more alert.  Whether it's just a walk around the library or a quick look through the aisles at Barnes and Noble, just make sure you get up and MOVE!  Spontaneous dance parties work best when studying with groups.  May I make a recommendation?

6// Start Early
          The closer you wait to study, the more stress that's going to build-up as soon as you start studying.  Stressful studying leads to less retention and even more stress!  My recommendation is to start at least looking over the material a week before the test or quiz.

7// Study with a group
          I can't remember exactly who taught me this, but it has become my new strategy for class.  During the first week of class, point out someone who seems to understand the material better than you.  Next, identify someone who seems to be struggling a little more than you.  The next step is to befriend these people!  Sit next to them in class and recommend forming a study group.  The person who understands the class concepts better than you will be able to help you if you have questions.  The person who is struggling will look to you for help.  This helps you, because if you can teach someone the material, you're going to retain it better.  Technically, yes, you're using the people, but it helps you get better grades, AND you might create some great relationships as well.

8// Rewrite your notes
          Go page by page in your notes and rewrite everything you have written down.  This helps add repetition which in turn will add retention.  Also, try to connect everything to your life in a way that you can easily understand it.  For example, I connect a lot of the class concepts from Interpersonal Communication to actual relationships I have with people in my life.  This way, I can think into my own life when a test comes around.
          While you're going through your notes, make sure to highlight or star any material that you might not understand.  The next step is to set-up a meeting with your professor to go through all of the material you don't understand.  When talking with your professor, make sure to relay back to them your interpretation of the concepts.  That way you're professor can affirm that you're on the right track.

9// SLEEP!!!
          I honestly don't understand how people can pull an all-nighter and even think about taking a test the next day!  Personally, I would be dead.  Pulling an all-nighter is bad for your body and really not worth the extra time to study.  Not only does your body's sleep clock get out-of-whack, but not sleeping can actually hurt your memory skills.  Does that sound good for a test?  Didn't think so!

10// Schedule study time
         As an extremely busy college student myself, I find it works best if I actually put aside time for studying.  Actually put it in your schedule with a time increment.  When going over my planner for the next day, I'll see when I'm free and block off some time just for it.  That way you'll feel a lot more obligated to study when the time comes around instead of just taking a nap because you have free time.

I hope my study tips will help with your next exam or test!  Do you have any study tips that work for you that you want to share?  Let me know in the comments!  I'm always looking for advice :)

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