Let's face it, if you're a college student, quizzes, tests, and exams are unavoidable. If you've been lucky enough to make it to the end of September with none behind you, start preparing for the tsunami that could flood your life in the next few weeks. If you're anything like me, it's not the test itself that I worry about, it's the seemingly endless hours of preparation that act as a gut-wrenching precursor to any major test—otherwise known as studying. My freshman year was more challenging than it needed to be because I knew nothing about effective methods for studying. As I dive into my sophomore year, I'm leaving those mistakes in the dust. Let me share with you a few tips and tricks I have begun to use this semester that have proven to improve my study skills and ultimately boost my test scores!
Schedule a time to study. Just as you have classes that are scheduled for certain times and on certain days, it's important to set aside time to do nothing but study. Of course, it's always a great idea to try and squeeze in studying between your daily activities, such as work or practice, but if you don't make a time slot in your calendar for pure, uninterrupted studying, it won't be as beneficial as it could be. By the way, If you are a college student and don't utilize a calendar or day organizer, I judge you (and envy you—I wish my life had no schedule!). Stop telling yourself that you'll study at work or before going to sleep. Trust me, I know this from experience. Work will somehow get slammed or you'll fall asleep with flash cards on your forehead and a big fat F in front of your eyes when you get that test back.
Find an ideal, comfortable study space. Living my first few college years as a commuter, it's easy for me to find somewhere quiet to study where no one will bother me. It's wonderful. For those who live on campus, it can be next to impossible to find a place of solitude, safe from those friends who just can't get the hint that you have other things to do besides talk about what's for dinner in the caf and that attractive lad who just strolled by. If there's a silent floor at your school library, which happens to be the third floor at John Carroll, go there. Empty classrooms in academic buildings are also a possibility. Find a cozy spot, plop down, and get to work. Bring some snacks so you're not tempted to go on random walks to the vending machine later realizing you're on your fourth bag of Doritos. If you like to listen to music, I suggest some instrumental or classical music. This way, you're not distracted by belting out Taylor Swift lyrics or wiping the tears off of your cheeks listening to Drake. Spotify has an awesome variety of studying playlists—check them out. Also, put your phone away. Make sure it's on silent. Reward yourself every 30 minutes or so with a five-minute phone break.
Practice a particular study method. Last year, I tried to re-read my notes over and over and considered that a satisfactory study method. I wasn't satisfied when I got my grade. This year, I believe flash cards are my golden ticket. Flash cards are as old as time, but can really help you ingrain that much-needed info into your brain for your next test, especially if you have to remember a lot of vocabulary or terminology. If you hate writing things out by hand, I strongly suggest https://quizlet.com/, where online flash cards are available for free. It's Eco-friendly too, so it's a win-win!
If a certain method works for you, don't hesitate to stick with it! There's no reason to stop doing something that's helping you. Maintaining similar study methods throughout the whole semester may become boring, but if it helps you on your first few tests, it will more than likely continue to do so. For example, for every PowerPoint we go through in my Anatomy class, I go back and create flash cards to cover all of the material. I make a hard copy set and a set on Quizlet, so I write and see that information many times. If you don't like consistency, maybe add on a few smaller studying methods to your successful base method to spice things up a bit.
Relax. Don't let the stress get the best of you. If you're putting in solid time and effort while studying, it's okay to take a Netflix break. If you maintain a steady schedule and methods of studying, there will be less to worry about when test time comes around. After a study session, do some yoga, take a hot shower, put some cucumbers over your eyelids—whatever you gotta do (that's legal and safe), do so.
Those are my simple and hopefully helpful study tips. Have a great fall semester!