Do you ever feel like your studying doesn’t pay off? You’ve spent countless hours reading through your notes and realize you can’t actually remember anything? This could be because you aren’t studying effectively. One of the main reasons could be that studying in college is quite different to the studying you used to do in school, during midterm exams, final exams and Ordinary and Advanced Levels. Turning your studying routine around can be quite beneficial and effective in terms of retaining information relevant to exams in college.
This is a common mistake that students make when trying to study. Of course, reading is an important part of studying, but it is not the entire process. Reading should be “pre-studying”, where you read your notes or essential reading, but for class and for your actual process of studying. Rereading your notes can help you forget what you’re even reading. Firstly, create your own study guide and work from that. Read information to yourself out loud and create maps and small notes explaining the material. You can even quiz yourself as a means of testing.
Work on a routine for yourself everyday before class. Do your essential readings pertaining to the lecture which will be taught the next day. This ensures that you are prepared and have an understanding of what will be taught, leading you to form questions after the lecture and raise them up with the lecturer. Lecturers are there to help you and above all, ensure that you understand your material. Later, read your notes from the lecture and pair it up with the information you have from your readings to get a better grasp of the subject.
When you are reviewing your notes from the lecture, make little notes or maps/diagrams on a notebook or even your laptop. Simplify your notes and highlight key words. The short and interactive notes with little bits of information in a spaced out manner will help you retain information easier and possibly faster. If it helps you, use different colours for your notes by using highlighters and/or coloured pens and markers. Use your own examples to relate to lecture content for a better grasp of the subject. This helps you to understand better and effectively.
A longer studying session does not necessarily mean that it is more effective. Extended sessions of studying can be quite exhausting on the mind and body, and can wear you out, thus rendering your study session ineffective. You can actually achieve more in a single study session, if you study more intensely. Set aside a study session for a single topic, for about 30 – 45 minutes, and actively work on that without any distractions. You can have 4 or 5 sessions to cover topics. The shorter time frame puts pressure on you to work effectively and avoid procrastination.
Set up a space exclusively for you to work at, and when you start to complete your work there on a regular basis, you are setting up a proper routine for yourself. This could be a desk in your room, or in your living room, or even at the college library. Keep your space clean, organized and equipped with necessary textbooks, course materials, stationery and a functioning computer with a fast Internet connection. Sometimes a library may be too quiet or stifling for you, so be mindful of what space works best for you to study.
The best way to study is to tune out all distractions which may be keeping you from working effectively. These can include social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or even a noisy home. Close your room door to shut out the noise and start working. If you find that your phone can be a huge distraction (it almost always is!), keep it switched off. For some people, listening to music helps them concentrate better, and for some, even classical music soothes the mind and calms it, enabling them to concentrate and study better.
Managing your time is rather essential with regard to your study routine. Every Sunday, sit down and make a schedule for your daily study routine for each day of the week, and pencil them in depending on the timings of your lectures. Write down what you need to get completed during the week, and make sure that you stick to it, or at the very least, complete a part of what needs to be done. Having a definite plan for each day sets the step for you to be more productive and efficient with studying.
It’s the night before an important exam, and you realize you haven’t studied a bit, nor do you have any clue about the topics which will appear for the exam. Do not let this happen. It’s usually a recipe for disaster, and most often, cramming before an exam will leave you with barely any information retained in your mind. As mentioned above, an effective, intense and practical study schedule will help you prepare for exams weeks or even months ahead, and ideally, this is the best and easiest way to study. Be easy but firm on yourself.
When you complete a 30 – 45 minute study session, take a break for yourself. Perhaps do not take your phone out, because a screen can be tiring. Take a walk around your garden, or go into the kitchen to get a snack, or some coffee or juice. Eating and drinking will sustain you, and give you some energy to progress throughout the rest of the intense study sessions. Do not eat heavy meals as you may be sleepy afterwards. Short social media breaks are alright, as long as you’re aware of the time.
Once in a while, get together with your close friends from class and engage in some effective and intense discussions and studying. It would be good to compare notes and quiz each other on individual topics. This is effective and also helps to retain information in your mind. If in a group, one person can take on the role of a lecturer and quiz each person, and this role can be passed onto each person. Take breaks every now and then to refresh your minds. Group studying, when done properly can be effective, helpful and fun.
Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.