Shalon, a reader of my blog, sent a post with some of her favorite study habits. Back in college and grad school, I like to think that students who earned high grades tended to really develop their skills at studying.
Here are a few things I used to do:
- For memorization, I found frequent 15-20 minute sessions over the course of a few days worked better than spending two or three hours at a time. I’d carry around flashcards and quiz myself. I believe that memorization is a habit and so found that short sessions worked better.
- I never crammed and I never stayed up all night writing essays. Instead, I worked every day for about eight hours. At times, I would stay up late writing essays and studying when needed, but in general I tried to get most of my work done in the day. I think this is less stressful as if you procrastinate you just think about it all day.
- In university, I began to have panic attacks. They’ve stuck around. But I found that exercising before an exam (such as going to the gym in the morning before a noon exam) helped to relax me.
- Studying right before bed helped with memorization. I wouldn’t do a lot. But enough to let it soak into my brain as I slept.
- I also read the blog Study Hacks. It’s one of the best guides to becoming an A+ student out there. The blog is written by a computer science professor and has amazing insights into skill development, habit development, and how to manage stress.
Here are Shalon’s study tips. This is Shalon speaking now.
Master your goal setting
The video below has an incredible system for setting daily work or study goals. I particularly like his technique for tackling a day that is stressful such as having multiple tests and deadlines to study for.
Basic study goals can help make any subject seem easier. Set both long-term and short-term goals. These can be anything from reading to the end of a chapter before looking away to writing the introduction of your essay or deciphering a complicated equation. Whatever your subjects, set goals that suit you and stick to them. You will feel much more accomplished when you have completed each one.
Find out if the institution you are attending can help you manage your academic goals. For example, my college (I go to Evocca College) dedicates time to assist their students in developing good study habits. I found this guidance to be helpful.
Is night really the best time to study?
If you are studying over a semester, or even in the short term before an exam, make a study timetable to give yourself the proper time to devote to learning. Like with your study goals, a study timetable should be both long term and short term, and you should stick to it as closely as you can.
Some people claim to be night owls but science tends to show that humans work best during the day. I love the video below and found it helpful in understanding the best times to study.
If you stick to a schedule, studying will become more routine and easier as you go. Do not forget to allow for flexibility and time off to give your brain a rest!
Work first and then socialize
Studying does not mean giving up on your social life or forgetting about your responsibilities to your family and friends; however, while you are studying, they should understand that you will not be as available to them.
Use this as an incentive to study harder and do better so that you will have plenty of time to socialise afterwards. Of course, go out to lunch or give yourself a night off every once in a while, but do not let it get you behind on your timetable.
It feels way better to go out after you are done your work. If you procrastinate, you’ll be thinking of all the work you need to do. In contrast, if you do your work first then going out will feel like a reward and going out will actually kill stress instead of creating more.