Study Smarter

No one likes studying. Even as someone who can honestly say they like school, I hate studying. It can be boring, tedious, and downright stressful. But don’t fear! I’ve got some tips for you that will have you nice and prepared for those crushing, oncoming finals.

1. Clean Space
According to the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute (fancy!) clutter– and chaos in general– restricts your ability to focus and therefore study. When I’m studying in my room, which to be fair isn’t often, I always like to clean it up first. Just pick up a few things off the floor, throw your laundry in the hamper and you’ll be studying better by doing something you probably should have done anyways.

2. Write it Down!
There are a million studies that say writing things down by hand helps you remember them better (Check out this medical daily article for more information) For me, any class or test can be lumped into three categories: flashcards, outlines, and essays. Flashcard are obvious and I really do recommend them. They’re just for simple information that you just need to throw back to the professor. Outlines are for the information that is a bit more complicated and nuanced, something that actually requires critical thinking skills. If your professor gives you a study guide, print it out with large enough spacing to mark it up and write down everything you know about each topic. Finally, essays. In high school I had a teacher who would provide the prompt ahead of time, and I’ve heard of this happening sometimes. Basically, write an outline, or a thesis or something for an essay you know you’re going to have to write. Maybe you write down quote– I don’t know, sky’s the limit.

3. Sleep for God’s Sake
Do I really have to say this? No, cramming all night before your exam will not help you pass it, especially if you accidentally sleep through your test because all the sleep you got last night was Red Bull.

4. Plan Accordingly
I am such a crammer, it’s true, but that’s because I know my limits as a student. I don’t need to study for three days for a quiz, but if you do that’s totally ok. Just know that it’s impossible to cram three days worth of studying into one. Studies show that studying the same information all day doesn’t even help you retain the information anyways.

Another, related tip (let’s call it 4b) is to study the information right after class or the day after.  Immediately reminding yourself of the information will store that stuff in your long term memory.

5. Know Your Test
Ask questions about the format. Ask questions about the format. ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT THE FORMAT. A multiple choice test is going to play a lot different than a short answer one. Unless you have a crazy professor, chances are you’ll have at least one other test in the semester besides the final (maybe it’s the midterm, I’ve got a few classes like that). These previous tests are invaluable, especially if the final is written, because for the most part instructors aren’t going to change their tried and true format. If you know how the questions are going to be asked, then you know how to study certain things. You may also get clues on the content. Say you got a 70 on your first test in a class because your professor is really into dates and you knew none of them. Well, now you know to study dates! Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

Productive Enough to be President

StudyInsta

Being productive is so hard. You’ve got your phone, unlimited supply of microwave popcorn, and they just added a new season of Bob’s Burgers on Netflix. What’s a self-respecting student (or real adult, I don’t judge) to do? Just your luck, I love organization, so here are my tips that will get your tearing through your to-do list.

1. Stay Organized!
I cannot stress enough how important it is to stay organized, especially at the end of the semester when everything in piling up fast. Personally, I write down an assignment as soon as it’s assigned and keep writing it down until the deadline. I also have the deadline written down in flashy red ink so I can see it coming. This way, deadlines don’t sneak up on you, and I even find it helps with procrastination.

2. Give Yourself Little Tasks
Alright, so you have a massive project written down, and even though you’ve been working on it, you still feel like you’ve gotten nowhere. This feeling sucks and drains motivation. What I do to combat this is write down little piece of a bigger project on a sticky note so I can cross things off and feel good about myself. For example, Big Paper. I can’t write Big Paper in one day, but I can make an outline for Big Paper in a day, and I’ll be able to cross of Big Paper Outline from my list, and that way I’ll feel totally productive and awesome.

3. Overplan
I might be the only person who does this, but so far in my life, it’s been the only thing that’s helped with procrastination. Now, I’m definitely not a big procrastinator anyways, but on the weekends when all I want to do is nap it can be rough. I make a big to-do list with everything, not just school work, that I need to get done that day. Laundry, emails, phone calls, coffee, whatever. But I write down way more things than I would ever be capable of getting done because I know I will do about half of the things I say I’ll do. This is true even when there’s only two things on my list. But if there’s twenty… well, you can see where I’m going with this.

4. Get Out of Your House
A common tip, but it works! I love doing homework in my bed, but when I really need to be productive I trudge across campus to the tech center where I will be extremely motivated. The best places to go are where other people are also doing homework or studying. If you’re at home, you’re just going to sleep or snack or watch cat videos all day. Even if you don’t mean to! It happens to the best of us! Just make sure wherever you go, you don’t forget your headphones.

On Friday, I’ll be throwing down my best study tips!


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