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.

Tips To Waking Up Early

When you’re in college, waking up to do anything can be difficult. 8am’s are excruciating, napping in the middle of the day can lead to sleeping all night, and don’t even get me started on getting up at 6am to volunteer and boost your resume.  We all need sleep, sure, but too much of it, like any good thing, is bad. I have my bad days, but I like to think I’m pretty good at waking up. Here are my tips.

Don’t sleep in which is much easier said than done. I try to not sleep in past ten on any given day, including weekends. This is a must for me, because at 10am I’m scheduled to take a pill. Turn your snooze option off, so you won’t be tempted to go for “ten more minutes.” Alarms work, but what’s even better is getting your inner clock to go along for the ride. To better facilitate this, create an uncomfortable variable. Back home, I had an east(ish) facing window and no blinds, so in the mornings it would eventually just be too sunny to sleep anymore. In the swing of things I usually couldn’t sleep past 8:30 even if I had been up all night. College messed that up a little.

Eat immediately (or drink coffee or shower or work out). I am almost totally caffeine tolerant (meaning caffeine does nothing to wake me up. I’ve drunk expresso then napped.) so I don’t drink coffee, but eating always does the trick of waking me up in the mornings. I’ve heard the same about showering. Don’t daddle around in bed, even if it is super comfy. Just get up, and do it. I promise it will make things easier.

Now, a lot of waking up is mental. Don’t make excuses. Don’t lie in bed staring up at the ceiling contemplating all your life choices that let up to you having to get up so early. The alarm goes off, roll out of bed and get your blood pumping. If you think that your 8am isn’t important (which maybe it isn’t, but that’s not the point), chances are you won’t go so make it a priority. Even if it seems stupid, going to class is important. You’re paying a whole lot of money, why waste it?

I hope these helped some struggling student or anyone else. Remember, you got this!