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Studying Methods & Habits to Adopt This Quarter

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

Not many schools implement the quarter system. The UC system, however, is well known for its ten-week increments of fast-paced classes. As a third-year UC Davis student, I feel like I can confidently say that I am a veteran in the quarter system. I’ve learned that the winter quarter is arguably the hardest quarter. People tend to stack up their class units and pile on the jobs and extracurriculars. It is cold and gloomy out during this quarter, so people tend to cool it on the parties and buckle up indoors to focus on their studies. It can be overwhelming though. The cold also makes it hard to want to be productive, so I’ve done some research on the most efficient ways to study and manage my time to help with the winter quarter blues.

My first habit that I’ve actually been doing since my first year here is creating an environment that will invite a good work session. If I study in my room, it needs to be clean and my desk needs to be clear of anything that I am not going to use to study. Otherwise, I go to the library or a cafe to get work done, usually if I’m writing a paper or something that just requires my laptop and iPad. I make sure I have a full water bottle and another fun drink, like coffee or tea. It also helps me to have headphones on, even if no music is playing, as well as a candle turned on.

Another technique that I actually have also been implementing in my study process is using a Pomodoro timer. What I like to do is write the tasks that I would like to get done during a session on a Post-It note. By writing it down I won’t get overwhelmed by figuring out what I need to do next. Then, I like to use the app Forest, which locks your phone during the timer so you don’t get distracted, or the website LifeAt.io which is a virtual study space that has a Pomodoro timer in it, as well as music and visual backgrounds. My preferred time breakdown is 50 minutes with a 10-minute break in between.

Some study techniques that I am going to try this quarter are Spaced Practice, the Feynman Technique, and Mind Mapping. Spaced Practice is the idea that longer, spaced-out studying is better than longer blocks of intense studying. After class, I will review my notes and the main ideas of the lecture. Then, at the end of the week, I will revisit the material and review it. I will do the same thing the following week, slowly incorporating the newer concepts with the old ones.

The Feynman Technique upholds that to understand something well, you should put it in simple terms and try to teach it. Start by picking a broad topic from a lecture. Write and explain what you know as if you’re teaching it to someone else. Go back and see the areas that you got wrong or missed. It also helps to take any big vocabulary and write simple definitions of them to solidify the concepts.

Mind mapping is something that I’m really excited to try. I got myself a large whiteboard to encourage myself to use this method. Mind mapping is taking the concepts in a lecture and organizing them in an aesthetically pleasing way to connect the ideas together. To get the most out of this method, it’s best to use different colors and actually draw out the circles with the concepts in them and the branches connect them to one another. The way I am going to use these methods is by using a mind mapping layout and actively recalling the ideas like in the Feynman technique.

These methods have actual scientific data that proves it is more likely you’ll be able to remember your lectures and not have to study for hours on end.

Karina is a second year Biochemistry & Molecular Biology major at UCD. Although she is STEM based academically, she enjoys advocating the feminist movement, having conversations about the political climate, whilst trying to remind herself and others to enjoy the simplicity of life through it all. She is passionate about writing what's on her mind in hopes that others can relate and find a sense of community.