The semester is in full swing and professors are starting to mention tests in the next few weeks. Tests can cause a gloomy cloud to hang over everyone’s head, but if you study right and study hard, tests can be a piece of cake. If you’re one of those people who never studied in high school yet made straight A’s, that’s fantastic, but for a lot of people studying is a daunting task that takes last priority. Here are a few tips to get it over with quickly yet efficiently so you can make that A.
1. Actually spend your study time studying.
If you glance at your notes for 0.02 seconds and then reward yourself with a 30-minute social media break, you’re going to accomplish nothing. Read through your study material, put the phone away and save it for your break time (which should be after a substantial study time).
2. Create a study plan.
Planning out your study time can keep you on track for getting things done, but be realistic. Making a list of the things you have to do that day and ordering them by importance or time sensitivity can make it easier to know what to do first, then you can allot time for each. Saving space for breaks can be effective, as you’re more likely to hold out for a break when you know one is coming up.
3. Do your textbook reading wisely.
Divide the reading into chunks instead of trying to read 40 or more pages in one sitting. You’ll stay focused longer and you can take time to learn each important section at a time. Actively reading the book before taking notes prevents you from copying a bunch of unnecessary information. You can get a basic understanding before you decide what’s relevant. Paraphrasing from the textbook will also stop you from jotting down information without fully processing the importance.
4. Don’t do it all at once.
Pulling an all-nighter before a test isn’t super helpful, despite the number of people who do it. Your brain needs rest to function at its best, so running on empty will make it harder to remember the material since you’re so tired. Spread out your studying over weeks, even spread it out over a day. It’ll be harder to focus if you sit and look at something for several hours straight, so take breaks to clear your mind.
5. Switch between school responsibilities and personal responsibilities.
Doing nothing but homework is difficult, as is cleaning your dorm for hours. Alternating between these can seem less annoying since you’ll get a break from each task. Take time from studying to fold that laundry, or relax from washing dishes by reading a few flashcards.
6. Try to do your assignments and studying earlier in the day.
If you put things off and procrastinate until after 10 p.m., you’ll be more stressed than before. Challenging material will seem even more daunting if you’re on a time limit. Getting things over with during the morning and afternoon makes your evenings calmer and you get more free time to sit and relax from a crazy day.
7. Use the Leitner System.
This is a flashcard studying method that has proven to be an efficient study method through spaced repetition and prioritizing information you need to work on. You start off with one pile of flashcards, scanning through them once. Each correct card goes in a second pile, and the incorrect ones go back into the bottom of the original pile. When you review the cards in the second pile and get them correct, they get put in a third pile. Any incorrect cards get placed in the first pile, even if they were in the third pile. You end up reviewing the cards you don’t know very well (the first pile) more often than the ones you get correct multiple times, therefore placing more importance on the unknown.
8. Have the right mindset.
Going into a test saying “oh I’m going to fail this” or “I just need a C to pass” isn’t going to get you motivated to do well. Lowering your standards isn’t a helpful strategy, since you should be confident and proud of the grades you earn. Sure, you can slack off and get that C, or you can study a little harder and make that A or B and take control of what you want in class.
9. Study in the way that works best for you.
This does not mean taking a bunch of needless breaks after doing nothing or gossiping to your friends, but deciding if flashcards or highlighting or other methods are best suited for you. If you don’t see results after studying hard, then it could be time to evaluate your study habits.