The Secret to Successful Studying

Our studying routines have gone through drastic changes this year.

In pre-pandemic times, I recall going to study at Moffitt Library with my friends after a long day of classes and procrastination. We’d take the elevator to the 2nd, 4th, or 5th floors to search for open seats, moving in extra chairs if necessary. Once seated, we’d take study breaks and choose a random person sitting across the room and stare at them until they noticed. Then, we’d continue staring, whisper something in each other’s ears, giggle, and go back to our work. Looking back, I realize how silly and potentially rude we were. But at the time, we reveled in our mischief and couldn’t wait to step outside to catch the beautiful Bay sunset and walk by the gorgeously shining Campanile to get dinner. 

That memory puts a smile on my face, and I long to be able to experience that again. But alas, these past two semesters of Zoom University have been tough on everyone. Our screen times are at all-time highs, and for those living in a different time zone, sleep schedules may have gotten a little messed up. Taking classes online has been hectic and tiring, which is strange given that I don’t need to trek uphill for miles every day to get to campus. However, over the course of this year, I’ve learned how to best navigate the virtual environment using a few studying tactics and resources that I will be taking with me back on campus next semester. 

woman holding textbooks and coffee

I used to pride myself on being the type of person who could cram an entire semester’s worth of class material in one sitting the day before the exam. Sometimes this method would work, but it was not sustainable and I forgot important concepts afterwards. Without the plethora of social activities on my plate this year, I've attended all my lectures and discussion sections and tried to engage and participate as much as possible. I've joined class Discord chats, attended a few office hours sessions, and tried to complete my assignments ahead of time to the best of my ability. 

Though I do attribute a lot of my success to doing what I mentioned above, I also believe that a huge part of it had to do with the following resources available to all Cal students:

#1: The Student Learning Center 

I’m sure you may have heard of or used their tutoring services. The SLC also holds midterm and final review sessions for various classes. I’ve found the STAT 20 Study Group to be extremely helpful in reviewing confusing concepts from lectures. The group provided extra practice problems and quiz/exam reviews along with a community of supportive and eager-to-learn peers!

#2: Lumist at Berkeley 

Lumist is a startup offering free and affordable academic services for students! Lumist has a Discord server with active, helpful, and kind instructors in a variety of classes (CS 61A, ECON 1/2, ECON 100B, MATH 16A/B, MATH 10, CHEM 1A, CHEM 3B, BIO 1B, etc.) and subject matter experts that are available to help. Lumist also holds helpful live and recorded Zoom review sessions for problem sets, midterms, and finals with provided study guides and notes. Stay tuned for their final review sessions so you can ace those end-of-semester exams!

woman student doing homework

#3: Berkeley Mobile 

Berkeley Mobile was developed by the ASUC Office of the CTO. They recently launched their new study pact feature, which makes it easy to form study groups with peers. Berkeley Mobile additionally helps students navigate campus buildings, resources, dining halls, gym classes, and deadlines with ease. 

Of course, I had to learn how to manage my time and prioritize my mental and physical health properly to fully reap the benefits of these resources. I try to get enough sleep and properly fuel my body with foods I enjoy. I take five-minute breaks every 30 minutes or so. I also try to make time every day to do something fun and non-school related (like attending a club social, watching Netflix on Zoom, or going for a jog around my neighborhood) to prevent burnout. It’s important for me to voice my concerns and address how I feel when I’m stressed. 

So what’s the secret to studying successfully? Studying looks different for everyone. What works for others may not work for you, so it’s up to you to try out various methods and utilize different resources to find the right methodology. It’s OK to take mental health breaks to focus on and care for yourself every now and then. In the end, the grade you get in a class does not determine your worth or capabilities. I used to beat myself up about my achievements and felt that I was never doing enough. I still find myself feeling that way sometimes, but I now constantly remind myself that I am worthy, capable, and more than enough. And you are too.