Final exam time is right around the corner! That means college campuses are full of stressed out students scrambling to pull all night study sessions in an attempt to cram every little bit of information in their heads as possible. Sounds like fun, right? Sure it does – if your definition of fun is being sleep deprived and wearing two day old clothes covered in highlighter and coffee stains.
Psst! We’re going to let you in on a little secret! Ready? Studying doesn’t have to be like this. Go ahead, try your best Schwarzenegger impression and bid your old study ways an ‘Hasta la vista, baby!’. We’re going to lay it all on you and tell you how to study better!
Do You Know Your Learning Style?
It’s probably a good idea to know your learning style when trying to implement ways to study better. Knowing how you learn can make your study process so much easier and effective. We’ll keep this part short and sweet, but do take note of where you in with these learning styles.
- Everything comes together when you can see and touch what you need to learn. You may be a fan of graphs, charts, pictures and reading instructions.
- Writing things down helps you remember facts and tasks you need to complete.
- Reading instructions or watching a lecture drives the point home better than just hearing them.
- Hearing instructions or information works like a charm and allows you to relay the same information with ease.
- Music may be a useful tool for you and can potentially help you focus more rather than pose as a distraction.
- It’s often better for you to hear things and hit the ground running without having to stop and read something for clarification.
- Touch is your favorite way to learn something new. Nothing beats a hands on approach.
- Problem solving is your thing, which makes math and science your cup of tea.
- Demonstrating how something is done is your preferred method explaining something. Who has time to verbally explain everything when you can just show someone how it’s done, right?
So, do you know what your learning style is now? Take this quick little learning style self assessment if you’re not entirely sure of where your learning strengths lie. The results will help you learn how to study better, so it’s well worth the five minutes it takes to complete it.
How to Study Better
Now it’s time to get into the good stuff and snag some helpful study tips. These are some tried and true methods we used when we were still stomping around a college campus. They worked for us and we sure hope they work for you. Side note: Remember that you have to find what works for you and your learning style, so don’t be afraid to tweak things a bit to do so.
Let’s get to it and tell you how to study better:
- Manage Your Time Effectively: It’s super important to make the most of your study time to ensure that you squeeze all the needed information into your cranium. Find a quite space to study and gather up everything you need to get said studying done before you start. You don’t need your study flow sent out of whack by distractions or having to go grab something.
- Create a Study Plan: Locking in a good study plan is a part of managing your study time effectively. Take a look at your syllabus for each class and figure out what you’ve got to study for and when, for starters. Next, prioritize what you need to study in order of what’s most pressing and go from there. This should keep you on point and prepare you for whatever you have coming up next in class.
- Learn to Take Great Notes: Your notes are going to be one of your best study tools, so it’s super important and helpful to learn how to take them well. Try to write down everything that you think is important and as much of what is covered as possible. It may sound tedious, but it will definitely help you in the long run. Go ahead and rewrite your notes a few times during your study time after class, too. It’s a great way to drive that information home, especially for visual learners.
- Read Slowly and Out Loud: Use that big old brain of yours the whole time you are reading. Think about what you’re reading as you take your time and really read what’s in front of you. It can be extremely helpful to read slowly and out loud while studying, too. Pay close attention to areas that make you stumble and/or require a few reads to understand. These little catches will help you pick up on some areas that you need to spend a bit more time on.
- Make Flash Cards: Grab some index cards and prepare to make them your new BFFs! Flash cards are an awesome way to study since they are portable, easy to flip through and a great way to quiz yourself (or have someone else do it). You can write down a ton of information on each index card and even use colored ones if you plan to use this tip for multiple classes.Quiz Time: Cue the Jeopardy theme song, because it’s quiz time! You can quiz yourself using flash cards or any assessments available online, in your textbooks or at the library. Don’t be too shy to ask your friends or family for a little quiz action, too. It may just help to have an outside source putting the pressure on you.
- Study in Spurts: Contrary to what you’ve likely always thought, studying in marathon sessions isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Shoot for hardcore study spurts that last 30 minutes to an hour then follow each spurt up by a quick 5 to 10 minute brain break. This keeps things moving in your noggin and keeps you from getting too tired too quickly. Just make sure you allow for enough time to get everything done when using this method.
- Tie It All Together: Let your brain do the work here and make whatever associations come most naturally to you while reading/writing your study material. Use those associations as a tool to spark a memory when it comes to exam time.
- Hit the Hard Stuff First: We know it’s more enjoyable to study the easy stuff first and save the hard stuff for later, but don’t do that anymore. Tackle the more difficult topics first while you’re still fresh and punchy since they will require much more effort. It’s far easier to study the less challenging stuff when you’re a bit tired rather than trying to study a hard concept while you’re nodding off. You’re not going to get very far that way so kick that study habit to the curb now. It may not be the most fun way to study, but the results will keep you on this track for sure.
- Don’t Put It Off: Don’t let procrastination get the best of you, peeps! Stay on top of your studies like it’s your job! Take adequate breaks and get the amount of rest you need for sure, but don’t be a slacker and leave everything until the last few days before a big exam. You’re only shooting yourself and your grade in the foot this way. Buckle down, stick to your schedule and show those exams who’s the boss in the end.
- Do Your Homework: Yep, you still have to do your homework even when you’re in college. Try to think of homework as more than just a time suck and more of a tool to help what you’re studying stick around. It lays the ground work for what’s to come and helps to familiarize you with the topics already covered. So suck it up, buttercup, and get your homework done!
Here are a few extra little tid bits to help you make the most out of your studying. Add these bonus tips into your routine to up your studying ante and get the most out of the whole process.
- Create a Reward For Yourself: Take the sting out of studying a bit by creating some sort of reward for yourself after you get a set amount of work done. It’s a nice incentive to look forward to and will help you keep your momentum when you otherwise might lose steam. For example, you can promise yourself an iTunes download or even allow yourself a nap at the end of your study time. Whatever will work to keep your nose in a book, really.
- Eat and Drink Wisely: It’s a good idea to have a snack and a drink on hand while you’re studying, but make sure that what you’re consuming is going to be helpful to your studying. Drink some coffee or tea to stay alert and opt for a healthy snack full of omega’s (like almonds and other nuts) or slow carbs to keep your energy level up.
- Find Your Happy Place: Don’t be afraid to take a few minutes to meditate and find your happy study space. Clearing your mind before diving into a study session can be extremely helpful as it can help you retain information better.
- Shut It Down: Social media and text messages are not your friend when it’s study time. You don’t need to check in on Facebook, Tweet about how much you hate studying or Instagram a selfie of how cute you look in your new reading glasses. Shut down those distractions because they aren’t going to pass your exam for you!
- Shake It Off: Taylor Swift has been telling us to ‘Shake It Off’ for months now and she’s actually got a good point when it comes to studying. Push your books aside every now and then so you can crank the music up. Shake what your mama gave you and get your body moving. The combination of the music and dancing will get your endorphins flowing in preparation for the rest of your study time.