Studying can sometimes (if not often) be a daunting and unpleasant task, especially when you're trying to balance a social life, extracurriculars, or just looking to have free time. I'm a huge fan of free time, so over the years, I've learned a few tips and tricks to help make studying less awful than it has to be.
Different methods work for different people, so by no means is this an exhaustive or definitive list, but hopefully, it'll help give you some ideas to make your next exam seem more manageable!
1. Know your learning style, and work with it.
You might've learned about the four different types of learning styles: visual, auditory, read/write, and kinesthetic. Most of us fall into one or two of these groups, which describe the methods of studying or learning that work best for us.
Here are some ideas of how to incorporate your learning style into studying.
Visual: incorporate pictures, graphs, charts, or videos into your notes or study materials. If it helps, draw things out, or color-code your notes.
Auditory: if your teacher or professor lets you record them speaking, take advantage of it! Listen to their lectures on playback, especially with subjects or topics you struggle with. Find YouTube videos or online tutorials where you can listen to someone teaching the topic.
Read/Write: just like it says, you'll do best if you repetitively write out your notes, lists, or study guides. Research has proven that when you handwrite notes, it helps you remember them better!
Kinesthetic: you need to find a way to interact with things! Try to find fun websites, learning games, or ways to use physical objects to help you study.
Not sure what your learning style is? There are plenty of personality quizzes online that will tell you.
2. Make a study schedule before you even start reviewing.
So. You know your exam is in a week, and you know that it covers chapters one through four. But where do you even start? A study schedule is a simple way to outline what and when you're going to review each day to help spread out your study load (and avoid cramming!). Your study schedule should reflect your needs. There's no right way to do it!
3. Ditch the distractions!
Yes, social media can sometimes seem like the most interesting thing in the world compared to reading a textbook. But letting your phone, the internet, or TV distract you will only lengthen your study time!
Tell yourself that if you spend 45 minutes studying, you'll let yourself spend 15 minutes watching YouTube, Netflix, or exploring the internet.
Hide your phone!
"Out of sight, out of mind," right? If you find yourself reaching for your phone every five seconds, throw it under a pillow, in your backpack, or put it in a completely different room.
Building upon the previous tip, sometimes we need to motivate ourselves to study, and sometimes that means rewarding ourselves for doing what we need to do! Find a reasonable reward for whatever study tasks you have for the day.
5. Use Quizlet, Khan Academy, or other online study resources.
Quizlet is a great application for online flashcards. You can use it on your laptop, phone, or tablet, so you can study anywhere you go! Quizlet also provides games that help you learn. It organizes what terms you seem to be having more difficulty with, and lets you categorize your flashcard groups into classes, chapters, or whatever you want!
Khan Academy is another excellent website absolutely full of tutoring videos in subjects from physics to psychology and more. They'll most likely have something that can help you with whatever topic you're struggling with.
6. Don't over-do it.
As much studying as you might have, it's really important to make sure you're giving yourself breaks, letting yourself sleep, and taking care of your mental health. Breaking up studying into smaller segments over a longer period of time will help prevent the all-too-familiar stressful cramming session, and is actually better for truly learning and remembering the topics.