Next semester looms on the horizon, and many students are already dreading the weight of a new workload. It’s understandable why many will balk at the prospect of studying, given how tedious it can be. How best to review the material? How to ensure one understands and remembers it? Thankfully, there are numerous strategies and tricks available to students. After asking some current students they’re preferred methods, here’s what they suggested.
1. Study apps
High school senior Cristal Morales was struggling with her SAT studies until she discovered her magic bullet in the form of an app called Cram. “It’s basically digital flashcards, although they also have games on the app,” she said. “I can usually learn my fifteen SAT words within a few minutes while I’m using the app.” Of course, there are hundreds of other study apps available for students as well. iTunes University has a broad range of curriculum material across multiple subjects, with the majority available for free. Flashcards+ is another popular digital flashcard study aid as well.
2. Tutor someone else
UML student Eric Leach said he had discovered how effective teaching someone the material he was studying helped him to better understand it. “I discovered this in high school while tutoring other students, and found it really helped me learn,” he said. “There's a quote I like, ‘if you can't explain something simply then you don't know it.’ I find once I've explained it to someone, I understand it very well.”
Leach’s process begins with getting a basic handle on his subject, and then explaining it to a fellow student struggling with the same topic. “Normally I try and break everything down as simply as I can, so anyone could understand it, then build up from there,” he said, additionally mentioning his fondness for drawing out concepts via whiteboard. “That way, going into an exam, I'm not worried about reviewing every little definition and detail and I can explain the process and put words or equations in where they make sense.”
The key, according to him, is to have what he is learning make sense, at which point he’s ready for any exam. “Honestly, this method is how I get through classes,” he said. “I do minimal review and book work outside of homework and still manage to get an A or B in all of my classes.”
3. Isolate yourself from needless distractions
Annie Owens prefers to get away from the world when she has to buckle down and study. “My best luck has come when I can isolate myself away from distractions,” she explained, saying she especially preferred the library. “Everyone is just as miserable and stressed as you are, and nobody’s going to judge you for taking a nap on top of your paper.” Many universities provide quiet study areas with tutors present, so students should make sure to investigate what campus options may be available to them.
4. Reward yourself
Owens said she also found that treating herself to a reward as she progressed helped considerably. “I am not above using food as a reward for getting things done,” she said. “Most important is packing foods high in protein.”
Students should find a pattern that finds a pattern that works for them, setting goals or a schedule and taking regular breaks for whatever best incentivizes them. In addition to food, a single episode of their latest Netflix show, stretching and exercising, or a short walk outdoors are all potential rewards worth considering.
There are more study options for students today than ever before, and with such an embarrassment of riches students are sure to find one that works for them. “I find studying to be mostly an exercise in manipulating myself,” said Owens. For everyone else, it’s merely a matter of choosing the right gym, so to speak.