Start off the year right with eight study tips to keep you on track.
#1 Go to class!
Before you can study, you need to learn something first. Your professors, parents and friends will nag you about it at some point — but seriously — go to your classes. Don’t make me Cane Cares you.
#2 Take notes
Taking notes will look different depending on who you are and what keeps you from dissociating during class. Break out the colored pens and highlighters, use your fancy sticky notes or stick to plain old pencil. Record the lecture and take notes afterwards or annotate your professor’s slides during class. There are several options to choose from and each class will dictate what kind of note taking technique you will need to use.
#3 Review and ask questions
Look back at your notes, you took them for a reason! Instead of death scrolling on Instagram or whatever Twitter is becoming, look back at your notes in breaks between classes. Reread and thoroughly understand what you wrote down. If you have gaps in your notes or knowledge, ask the professor about them after class is over or during office hours. Not only will you understand the subject better, but you have the bonus of looking studious and leaving a good impression with your professor. They exist to teach and answer your questions, so ask them!
#4 Study with friends
If you find yourself struggling with procrastination when you know you need to study, call up your friends and classmates. It’s time to make a study group. Regardless of whether your group is studying the same subject, sharing accountability is a great way to dig deep and reach your study goals. This works especially well when someone is slapping the phone out of your hand every time you get distracted.
#5 Change up your environment
Perhaps your productivity is generally best when studying alone, but focusing is getting difficult. Switch up your study spot! Instead of studying in that jail cell you call a room, find another spot on campus to crack open those books (or computer). Study in a bustling area with lots of white noise or a completely silent, still room with no distractions. Try out different areas and keep track of how focused and productive you are in each one.
#6 Take breaks
It is crucial that you do other things besides studying. Eating, sleeping and socializing are extremely important to your health, believe it or not. Listen to your body. Yes, you are here to get an education and pass your classes. But burnout is very, very real and you are not doing yourself any favors by not taking care of yourself. Set timers to remember to eat, stop working at a certain time every night and go to sleep, spend time with your friends while you study or eat and even if you haven’t finished all of your homework for the night, go to that game you were invited to. Studying is important, but so is your life. Do your best to have one.
#7 Get organized
If you don’t consider yourself an organized person, this is the time to become one. Get a calendar or planner, figure out a file system and build your second brain. Your calendar can be physical, digital or both (I suggest both). You are going to have due dates every week and your professors are not always going to remind you. Recording every deadline and exam date in your calendar will help you build a good study schedule. File away your completed work, do not trash it. You might need to come back to it later. Finally, building a second brain might seem difficult, but it’s rather simple. Use your brain to have ideas, use your second brain to store them. Carry a notepad or use a notes app to write down anything and everything that comes to mind before you forget it. College students are busy creatures with short attention spans and terrible memories. Write down your questions, epiphanies, goals, to-do lists — everything.
#8 Choose a study method
There are countless study methods you can try, so here are some popular ones. The Pomodoro technique relies on time blocking and built in breaks. Others help you process information from books like the SQ3R, PQ4R and THIEVES methods. Making flashcards and repeatedly quizzing yourself can help you memorize terms and definitions for a subject. Teaching someone about a topic you just learned is also an effective method of testing your understanding about a subject and identifying knowledge gaps. Improve your study habits by using combinations of these methods.