Five Steps to All A's

With midterms approaching, you’re likely already studying… or thinking about studying. Sometimes, it can be hard to motivate yourself to study, especially when there’s so much work to be done! It took me until I got into college to really understand how to “study smart.” Since I’m a senior and will soon leave the scholarly life behind, I’ve decided to pass on my foolproof, easy study method to you.

Step One: Make Quizlet Flashcards  

Whether you’re eco-friendly or just really love technology, Quizlet is the perfect way to study vocabulary! You may have used this website in middle or high school. If you aren’t familiar with Quizlet, it’s a free flashcard-making site. Just make an account and type up your flashcards—it’s super easy. You can add classes and study sets to organize your flashcards, and there are tons of ways to learn the information!  

Step Two: Use the Learn Feature

While you could play games like Gravity or flip through the cards on Quizlet, the Learn feature is the best way to memorize information quickly. Through Learn, you’ll be typing out answers or taking multiple choice questions. Your progress is recorded, including the terms you know for sure and the ones you’re shaky on. Even after you’ve reached 100% success, Learn still lets you run through those few terms that tripped you up. This feature is what makes Quizlet so much more useful than basic notecards!

Step Three: Make a Flowchart to Connect Ideas

While it’s great to memorize definitions on flashcards, context is equally important. What good is knowing what the endoplasmic reticulum is if you don’t know how it interacts with other organelles? I’m happy to introduce a solution—flowcharts. Using shapes as simple as circles and lines, you can connect ideas and painlessly diagram entire chapters of content. The flowchart also serves as a visual map that you can recall during exams. Have fun with your flowchart—use colors, doodles, and unique shapes to emphasize certain ideas or connections!

Step 4: Write Out A Study Guide

This step is what has single-handedly saved my grade countless times. Using colorful pens and full sentences, write questions and answers on pieces of paper. For example, write “What is the endoplasmic reticulum?” with the key term colored or highlighted. Then, write the answer as, “The endoplasmic reticulum is an organelle that [insert scientific answer here].” Next, write, “What does the endoplasmic reticulum do?” and answer as a full sentence. While this process is time-consuming, it is ultimately one of the best ways to review material. There are three reasons why writing a study guide is so helpful. Firstly, writing information longhand is proven to help you remember it (hence why so many professors at E-town don’t allow laptops in the classroom). Secondly, being able to teach the information and put it into simple terms is a sign that you fully understand the material, and it’s great to reference later down the line during (gasp) finals. Finally, study guides are easy to review from. Just cover up the answers with a blank piece of paper and inch it down as you go!  

Step 5: Study Those Tricky Things Short-Term

At this point, you’re an endoplasmic reticulum expert. But for whatever reason, you just can’t remember all the different types of organelles. In cases like this, make a one-page cheat-sheet with all of the information that trips you up. For the hour or so before the exam, sit down and read that page over and over and over and over. Run through it out loud (even if you look crazy). Keep studying it up until the moment the professor says, “Clear your desks.” Then, on the back of the exam or on scratch paper, write out what you remember. Spill all of your short-term memory onto the paper and go to town from there.