As a college student, we are expected to study, study, and study in order to do well in class. Now that I’m a sophomore, I feel that I have enough valuable experience that I can share with all the incoming freshmen. College is tough, but if you know how to survive, it sure will be easier! Here are some study tips that I would like to share with everyone:
First and foremost, come to class. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: “This is so obvious. Of course I’ll come to class!” That’s exactly what I thought when I first came here. I was a very diligent student, and I can swear that in my first three quarters here, I have never missed even a single class. However, now that I’m a sophomore, and now that I’ve been accepted into a university, I feel that I can slack off a bit. Especially because it’s my last quarter here in my college, I feel that I deserve to relax and not have to work as hard as before. As a consequence, I’ve started to wake up late, and thus, I’ve missed my morning class several times this quarter. With that being said, I do not advise nor tolerate skipping class at all. Not only is it wasting money, but the best way to do well in class is definitely to attend class, take notes and participate. Moreover, I’m pretty sure teachers appreciate it when you come to class.
Take full advantage of study groups. Yes, I am aware that some people find studying individually more efficient, and in fact, that’s how I feel too. However, having study groups has its perks too. If you are in a big class, it might be hard to get the opportunity to talk to your professors to ask for clarification on certain topics, so your study buddies might be able to help you with that. Moreover, teaching each other is a good way to learn. When you try to teach someone about a certain topic, you’re actually strengthening your understanding, and it teaching other people also lets you know which areas you don’t understand that well. Also, it is important to make sure that you find study pals that are hardworking and focused.
When studying, alternate between different subjects instead of spending hours and hours on just one subject. It is said that this technique actually trains us to think more and find the right strategy. Shana Lebowitz puts it this way—when we do several division problems in a row, we already know that we need to divide. However, if we do one division question and then one multiplication question, we can’t just apply division techniques. Instead, we have to stop and strategize a way to answer the question. Also, I don’t know whether this happens to everyone, but I feel that when I’m studying one subject continuously for several hours, I tend to get the topics mixed. On the other hand, if I study Physics first, and then English, it is less likely that I mix the two together as they are very different subjects.
Similar to the previous point, when studying, space it out a bit. I’m sure you’ve heard this one way too many times, but instead of cramming everything the night before the final exam, try breaking it up into chunks. Harvard University even did research regarding this topic.
Know yourself. Some people prefer studying in the morning, some in the afternoon, and some in the evening. I have no idea why, but for some reason, I find myself being really productive in the middle of the night. Sometimes, I find myself not feeling sleepy at all, so instead I start working on homework for about an hour or so. At the end of that hour, I am usually surprised to see how much homework I’ve completed in such a short period of time.
This one is something I’ve learnt recently: try studying in different places every day. I used to study in the same place every single day—I would always go to the Science Center and sit in the exact same table in the Physics Study Room. However, research suggests that studying the same materials in different locations every time will strengthen our memory and information retention. It is believed that every time we study in a different place, our brains are forced to form new associations with the same material, and thus, it strengthens the memory. Sounds weird? Yeah, I agree, but apparently, it works!
It is very important to take notes. I feel that whenever I’m writing something down, I’m actually forcing my brain to think about what I’m writing down, and slowly, begin to learn that material.
Another similar thing that I like to do is say the materials out loud. Let’s say I’m preparing for my History exam tomorrow. I will study by pretending to talk to my friend and explaining to her how the Cold War panned out. I think the reason I do this is because if I just read my notes, sometimes I read something that I don’t understand, but I just keep on reading because I didn’t realize that I don’t understand what I’m reading. But when I’m talking out loud, I notice when I don’t understand a certain topic that much. It is also very beneficial to turn the materials into a crazy story. This makes the materials more memorable.
Don’t forget to have fun! I know studying can be a bit stressful at times, so it would be a good idea to slot in several fun activities between studying. What I usually do is spend about two hours studying something, and then spend the next hour or two reading my favorite novel or watching a movie. After that, I usually find myself feeling more refreshed and ready to go back to studying.
Last but not least, get enough sleep! If you’re a college student, I’m sure you’ve experienced this one before. You have a bunch of exams in the next couple of days, so you decide to pull of all-nighters in preparation for the exam. I have to admit that I’m definitely guilty of this. However, I’m sorry to say that this doesn’t actually work. In fact, studies have shown that those students who don’t get enough sleep usually have lower memory retention and are more stressed. As a result, they tend to not do as well as those students who get eight hours of sleep the previous night.
Those are some of the studying tips I have picked up the past couple of years. I hope they have been helpful!
Post by Indira Pranabudi, an international student attending Green River Community College