Five Tips to Make Studying Easier
What is it about studying that makes the whole experience so miserable? I cannot speak for everyone, but for me it's the amount of time I have to spend on the drudgery of homework. It's also the uncertainty, even after hours of studying, that I have retained all of the appropriate information. Now some good news! It has taken me a year to perfect my study techniques, but I have finally figured out the best ways to study. As a favor to my dear readers, I will list five study tips that have made me a regular on my university's Dean's list.
- Start With Good Notes
I know that in order to get anything out of a study session, I need to have good notes. I have noticed that many professors are now handing out pre-printed notes for their students to use during lectures. These instructors deserve a special place in heaven as far as I am concerned. It's nice to just follow along and jot down a few details. When I'm in a class with an instructor who doesn't do this, I simply draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper. I put the major ideas and main events on the left side of the paper. Then, I add as much detail as I can to the right side. This helps me to make sure I have, at the very least, the main points. It isn't always easy, but I tell myself that good notes = fruitful study time.
- Don't Buy Into Study Time Myths
Like most people, I grew up with all sorts of rules about studying. I'd be willing to bet most readers are familiar with these directives:
- Always study right after getting home at the end of the day.
- Never play music or have the television on while studying.
- No snacking!
- Study in a quiet room.
- Don't take any breaks
No wonder I grew up hating to study and do homework! I became a happier and more productive when I stopped following a bunch of generic rules and figured out what worked for me. For example, I need to have snacks on hand. It stops me from getting up and down all the time. I also need to have music playing.
- Make it a Group Effort
A good study partner or study group has a resoundingly positive influence on my grades and performance. I think this is because I am by nature a very social person. I believe many others are the same way. Because of this, I always join a study group if it is available. I am also not above calling a friend over to study with me. We don't even need to be working on the same subject. It is just nice to have somebody nearby to engage in a little bit of conversation every once in a while.
- Study the Right Things
One of the reasons I used to struggle so much with homework and studying was that I was trying to learn everything. When I took notes, I tried to write down everything the instructor said. When I read my textbooks, I practically copied the pages word for word. Sometimes, I managed to retain enough of the important information that I did okay on exams. Other times, I failed miserably because I couldn't recall what I needed to. Now, I use the questions in the back of the chapters, vocabulary words, bullet points, and pictures when I read my text books. When I take notes during lectures, I wait for the teacher to indicate that something is important before I jot it down. I've also learned to simply ask my instructors what I should cover.
I nearly gave myself an ulcer before I realized that I did not have to hit a home run with every single assignment. I learned to focus on my overall grade, and not get bogged down with every little, not so perfect, grade. I also learned to prioritize which classes were most important. As a history major, every once in a while that meant turning in a math or science paper a little bit late so that I could focus on homework that was more relevant to my major. Amazingly, I never failed a class, and I've always made the honor role. I received some good advice once. I was told that my GPA was important at school, but my major GPA was even more important, and likely what my future employers would care about.
Well, there they are, five tips that have made school a much more enjoyable experience for me. I know that they won't all work for everybody, but I bet most people can benefit from at least a few of these. If nothing else, I hope anyone who reads this feels empowered to study in ways that are good for them, and not follow a bunch of arbitrary rules.