As a college student, studying has to be one of the worst things. When you account for all of the classes you're taking, all of the knowledge you have to retain, possibly studying without a study guide, having a teacher who absolutely can't teach for shit, or you simply just can't focus... we've all been there. Trust me, I've been there. We've all been there.
I'm currently a junior in college, graduating a year early, currently holding a 3.9 GPA. If you need some studies or just want to improve your study habits, try some of these tips that I do.
1. Actually show up for class.
I don't care if your teacher doesn't take attendance or if you don't learn anything. Three of my classes don't take attendance and I still show up. Why? Because at least I'm taking the effort to show up. Maybe your teacher will hint at something that wasn't on the powerpoint slides. Maybe your teacher will randomly do extra credit. At most, the least you could do is show up, even if you're not going to pay attention.
2. Pay attention in class.
If anything, pay attention to your hardest classes. If I had to be honest, there are some classes that I literally show up to and don't pay attention to at all. But when it comes to my most difficult classes, I show up and actively copy down what my professor is saying. More often than not, your teacher will go way more in-depth on certain topics.
3. If possible, copy class notes ahead of time.
For the classes where my teachers post the notes ahead of time, I copy them down the night before. It may seem like a waste of time, especially when you'd rather be watching Netflix, but it helps tremendously. That way, when you're in class, you can focus solely on what the teacher is saying and take the time to write that down instead.
4. Go to office hours.
Go. To. Office. Hours.
I promise you won't regret it. And even if it doesn't end up helping you, the worst thing that has happened is that you wasted about 30 minutes of your day. I go to office hours if I get a lower test score than I expected, if I want my TA's to check over my assignments for feedback before I turn them in (if possible), and if I want feedback after assignments are graded in order to understand what I did wrong. I've noticed that my work, and even my test scores, improve when I take the time and effort to see either my TA or my teacher during office hours.
5. Fill out the study guide (if there is one).
If your study guide is based on your powerpoint notes, don't sit there and copy and paste the slides into your word document. Repetition is key. Take the time to either write out or type out (if you're like me and prefer using your laptop) the answers. While you may not necessarily be directly learning when doing this, you are still introducing the information to your brain. Don't just rely on other people to send you their study guides, or even just pay for one. While it may seem easier to do it that way, other people's study guides may not be correct.
6. After filling out the study guide, or creating your own, go over it with highlighter and pen.
I don't just mean reading it over and over. After I make my study guide, or even print out my notes, my first run through always includes a highlighter and a pen. I highlight important things (even if it means highlighting every single thing) and write little notes and comments to myself on the page. The highlighter will help you focus on the important things and writing out little notes will help you internalize the information.
7. After you've gone through with the highlighter and pen, read it over and over.
Like I previously said, repetition is key. Read it over and over. And over. Read it as many times as possible. Read it when you're walking to class, read it when you're on the toilet, and read it when you're eating. While it may seem excessive, you will do much better on your exams. Why? Because repetition is key.
8. Study without any distractions.
I prefer to study individually, there's nothing I hate more than studying with other people or in groups. I get distracted very easily when others are around me. Moreover, I tend to mix up facts and get confused when I hear other people discussing the material, especially if they say the wrong things. Try going to the library, your apartment's study rooms, or even a coffee shop. Wherever you study best at, go there.
9. Put your phone away.
No distractions. If you're the type of person who continually checks their phone while studying , put it away. Lock it in your room. Put it in your backpack. It doesn't matter where you are, but don't look at it. The more you look at it while you're studying, the less information you'll retain. Not to mention that once you go on your phone, you're less likely to put it down. Trust me, I know this better than anyone.
10. Read the textbook.
Crazily enough, reading the textbook/assigned readings actually does help you understand the material better. Who knew? If you're not going to read them when they're actually assigned, you should at least read them before the test. At most, skim them over. Read the introduction and conclusion. If you're filling out a study guide, use the book/assigned readings to expand on the material.
11. Try to study in advance.
If possible, try to start studying a week ahead. However, if I had to be honest, I only study this far in advance if I know it's going to be an incredibly difficult test. Other than that, I mostly study two days in advance. Sometimes the night before... With that being said, only study the night before if you know you can get away with it. If you constantly study the night before and repeatedly fail your tests, maybe you should start studying ahead of time. However, if you're like me and can manage to study the night before (in rare circumstances) and still get an 'A', then go for it. Just keep in mind that your brain will retain a lot more information, and you will remain a lot less stressed, if you study a little bit each day.
12. Take study breaks.
This is important. Don't sit there and study for hours and hours and hours. Your brain will hate you, your body will hate you, and you will hate you. Take breaks, even if it's five minutes. Try taking a walk, doing some stretches, or even eating a snack. Your brain can only retain so much information and it deserves a break here and there. I'm not saying take a break and get distracted for two hours, but take breaks responsibly.
13. Keep track of homework/assignments/tests with a calendar.
It doesn't matter if you use a planner, a desk calendar, or even your phone calendar. Take the time to insert all of your assignments, homework, and tests into your calendar so that you can have an idea of when everything is due. Better yet, this will help you determine how long, and when, you're able to study for certain classes. You'll be much more organized and a lot less stressed.
14. Say facts out loud instead of just reading them in your head.
I learn a lot more, and retain a lot more, when I say my notes out loud. If you're shy, just sit in your room and read them to yourself. If your roommates or your friends don't care, just sit there and read it out to them. Don't just read your notes verbatim but also explain out concepts. It doesn't matter if your friends are listening or not, just read it out loud and I guarantee it will help you remember a lot more.
15. Utilize Quizlet if you don't mind typing everything in.
For those of you who don't know what Quizlet is, it's literally just flashcards on an app. I think it's super convenient and easy to use. Better yet, it's on your phone and everyone always has their phone on them. Flip through the cards as you're walking to class or even sitting on the toilet. Like I mentioned with study guides though, it will benefit you a lot more if you take the type to type out everything, rather than just copy and pasting the material onto the cards.
I think it's super important to take school seriously and study for your exams. Don't just shrug everything off and call it a day. However, in the long run, failing one test here and there is not the end of the world. Take the time to study and try your best, that's the most that anybody can do.