1. Find your trick!
Everyone has a studying trick. For some it’s flashcards. Others have a photographic memory. I knew a girl who retyped her class notes to best absorb the info. When it comes to studying you should know yourself as a student. Try and gage how much you have to study. Some people are blessed enough to skim their notes to cram just minutes before. If your are that person, no need to read further. You’ve got the study hacks down. For the rest of us, we need to put in a little more effort. If you need to study for 15 minutes before bed each night, set aside the time. You might need longer sessions. Really it depends on the student. As you navigate your way through your college degree you’ll get a better idea of who you are and how you best study.
2. Form a study group.
Accountability is key in college. If you’re studying alone in your dorm room you’re bound to get distracted. Find likeminded students in your class to form a study group. A study group will force you to set aside a time to meet and study. Filling out the study guide is so much easier when everyone contributes. You might not remember what the teacher deemed very important, but Tim from study group has you covered. One word of advice though: Pull your own weight. If you want to attend a study group you need to be able to contribute. There’s nothing worse than the person who shows up with a blank study guide and wants the group to help them out. Join a study group. Just don’t be that person.
3. Attend the study sessions.
Sometimes teachers offer study sessions outside of class. This might sound like more class, and a nightmare. Don’t look at it like that. It’s worth it to go. Like the study group, this is structured study time without distractions. Take advantage. Often the teacher offers indispensable wisdom when it comes to the test. They might give sample questions that look very similar to test questions, or elaborate on essay prompts and what they’re looking for exactly. It’s an excellent opportunity to ask questions, too.
4. Take awesome notes.
Showing up to class every week does you no good come test day unless you take notes. Chances are your memory will fail you. Good notes are essential for studying. It’s especially hard to fill out the study guide when you have gaps in your notes. The best study tool is actually paying attention and taking good notes before hand. Can you believe it? Actually learning will help you on the test! In all seriousness, cramming will do you no good if you don’t do the work beforehand.
5. Take advantage of the school tutors.
Sometimes academic departments offer their own tutors and labs. This gives you access to tutors who can help. Most tutors cost money, but these ones are free. Most likely they’ll have office hours. Stop in and ask about the questions that stump you. It’s especially common for math classes. The next best thing to having access to the teacher is access to the tutors.
6. Phone a friend!
When you miss a lecture and miss out on the notes, it’s important to have a “class friend” to help you out. You two can help each other! When it comes to the test it’s nice to have someone to call and ask questions. It’s also nice to have someone to vent to during a late night cram session. Two minds are better than one. In the first weeks of class try and scout out your class friend. I’d avoid the people who are absent, or the people who want to “share” the answers. Find someone with your work ethic, and pair up. No need to define the relationship, though. Just be there for them and they’ll be there for you! It’s a two way street.
7. Take a break.
Warning: Studying may fry your brain. There are only so many hours you can devote to the task before you start seeing stars. When this happens, take a break. You’re useless. You won’t be able to retain the information. Watch a few YouTube cat videos, go grab some fro-yo, throw yourself a 10-minute dance party. Whatever it takes to get your brain back on track, do that. Those breaks are going to save you, so don’t be afraid to take them!
Studying style depends wholly on the person. Find out what works best for you and stick to it. We can assume that cramming the night before doesn’t work well for anyone, so avoid that. Find balance. Study alone, study in groups and attend study sessions. Just remember, the feeling you’ll get when the test is over and you re-enter the real world—that feeling is priceless.