As I quickly approach my final year of college as an Ole Miss rebel, I am nowhere near able to say, “Yes, I have mastered studying.” You would think, after high school and 3.5 yrs of college, I would be able to efficiently study material, recall the information, and apply it to scenarios… I am that college student (like the majority) who has yet to conquer this. So over winter break, I decided to change that. After applying my methods during my first month of college classes/exams, I know they work. Here’s how to FULLY understand information, study efficiently, and achieve your 4.0 this semester in 2 steps.
1. Understand your BRAIN.
Your brain runs nonstop. Even when you sleep, your brain is thinking. It actually does most of its work while you’re asleep. If your brain ever stopped “thinking”, you would die. I always hear people say, “I’m thinking too hard on it” or “I wish my brain would stop THINKING!!” NO! You need to process your situation, your classwork, your relationship, even your daily activities. Thinking can cause you stress, but the only way to get rid of the stress is to think about how to fix it.
My biggest stressor: succeeding.
College courses alone cause 30% of student stress. College courses + jobs cause 60%. College courses + jobs + any outside stressor increases the stress level to 85%.
Keeping this in mind, I realized that if I could study efficiently, then I could cut down the stress for school at least by 25%. A.KA. I could remove the pressure to succeed… by literally succeeding. So, I went to the closest book store and studied up on the brain and studying techniques. My favorite of the books is John Medina’s Brain Rules. This book taught me that to be able to study efficiently, I needed to understand how my brain (and yours) learn. We learn using our senses– sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. So if we can apply our senses when we study, we can technically learn what we are studying. For the application section, I used some of Medina’s Ideas and also some from The A-Team and other books.
Smell. I thought long and hard about this. At first, I thought I would light a specific candle during my studying time (which helps put my mind in study mode), but I wouldn’t be able to bring that candle to class when I take my exam, ha! As a resolution, I decided to buy a specific lotion and perfume. I only wear them when I study and take exams. The smells help recall information associated with the time involving that specific scent>>> immunology notes. Similar to the scenario of smelling a particular smell and then remembering things that happened in your childhood. I think this sense should be applied in classrooms. If a professor were to spray a specific smell (different from smells in a typical class), would the students be able to associate that smell with the topic of the course?
Sound. Personally, I need silence. If you think about it when you take an exam, are you wearing headphones or is it quiet? You need to get used to hearing your thoughts when studying.
Taste. Some say if you chew gum while studying then chew the same piece on exam day, you’ll recall more info. I haven’t tested this due to the fact that my dentist doesn’t allow me to chew gum, haha! But it’s a thought. You could test it out. I decided that since I already have a coffee obsession, I’d put it to good use. In almost every study sesh, I’m sipping on coffee. I never finish my coffee, but I can tell that I’ve associated those little sips with focusing on my work. I also drink coffee while taking the exam.
Sight. This is sooooo important. Your brain doesn’t like looking at little black words on white paper/powerpoints. After you read a certain amount of pages, you’ll catch yourself thinking of RANDOM things, and this is because your brain is bored. You’re not learning. If you take your boring PowerPoint that your professor provided, go look up the topic, find bright images relating to the topic, and paste them into the PowerPoint, you’ll realize that you’ve been studying for that course for 2hrs and that you’ve learned about that topic.
Touch. Not applicable.
Making notecards (don’t just write all of your notes down on 10,000 notecards).
Rereading your notes every day.
In the mornings I ready chapters 1-4’s notes and around 3 pm chapters 4-7’s. AND IF YOU’RE BAD,……you’ll reread all of them before bed.
Repetition is key! Let studying become a routine for yourself! Make a study schedule and abide by it!
Exercise. You can’t study constantly. You and your brain need a break. Go outside or to the gym and walk/workout! Get those endorphins released!
Take that nap, girl.
Naptime is when your brain actually needs to rest. So take a break!! You’ll find that if you take a short nap (20min-45min), your brain functions more smoothly. You’ll find yourself being much more productive and studying more efficiently.