Knowing how to study is essential for any college student. Also, it doesn’t always mean to study hard or trade your sleep, hobbies, and fun for a diploma. On the contrary, learning to study efficiently teaches you to have a healthy work-life (or duty-fun) balance.
If you are wondering which skills you need to learn to study smart, check out the following list.
Life is full of opportunities. As a student, you will feel the urge to say “yes” to all of them. However, it may result in significant stress if you don’t learn to choose your priorities, and you merely go with the flow. To organize yourself, start by selecting your essentials. They are your sleep, healthy meals, communication with your closest ones. Then you have your goals for the next month or year. They are your main activities, like classes, assignments, hobbies, sports, part-time jobs, etc.
Let’s say you have a term paper due, need to prepare for an exam, have a concert by your favorite band, and, on top of that, your friend asks you to help them. What should you do? In the first place, check what you can delegate.
For instance, you can opt for term paper writing and focus on exam preparation. Once you are done with the things that will influence your academic performance, you can help your friend and go to the concert. Such situations may occur every day, and knowing your priorities will save you a lot of time and nerves. Remember that the order of importance is individual for every person. Prioritizing means gaining a clear understanding of which choice to make each time you have multiple opportunities.
The priorities that you defined for yourself should be placed first in your schedule. To ensure that you practice what you prioritize, you have to plan your entire week and learn to manage your time, from Monday to Sunday, from wake-up time till bedtime. This schedule must indicate your classes, but also personal working time, extra-curricular activities, transport, and leisure.
You can use any tool that suits you: a large board that you put on the wall in front of your desk, a classic paper planner, or a free planning app on your smartphone. Use different colors for personal work, lessons, sport, outings to make your calendar visual.
Writing down everything your lecturer says is senseless. At the same time, if you don’t take any notes during the class, you risk forgetting the information you learned because it dissipates from your short-term memory. First of all, choose the device of your preference. You can try handwriting in a copybook, typing on your laptop, or write and type at the same time on your tablet. By the way, there are plenty of programs specifically designed to make your notes look structured. As a result, you learn them faster. To save time, you need to develop a system of abbreviations. When you decide on an acronym, write it down on the margin of your sheet. Review your notes regularly, for example, every night.
Start preparing for your exams by planning your preparation:
- Count the number of days you have for revision (without counting the day before the exam). List all the courses (or subjects) you need to work on during this period.
- Fill in a table or your planner. Distribute the lectures, chapters, textbooks, etc., to be reviewed over the remaining days before the exam. Start with the oldest ones (studied at the beginning of the year) and end with the most recent ones. Also, fill in your weak points you need to work on before the exam.
- Make a precise schedule hour by hour or better, half-hour by half-hour. Assign a precise time for each task. Note down when you start and when you should end (preferable, no later than 11 p.m.).
- Choose a quiet, distraction-free place to study and do all your revisions so that you don’t waste time moving your things from one place to another. If your classmates offer to study for an exam together, make sure they actually have the intention to work.
To make your studying efficient, you should also learn to plan.
- Plan to do the most difficult subjects and assignments first thing after you wake up. Once you are done with them, you will be able to enjoy the rest of your day.
- Alternate materials. For example, avoid doing the math for a whole day, then history another day. Instead, plan a slot devoted to both math and history every day. You will waste less time on each subject, and you will more easily remember the different subjects.
- If you only take one subject, intersperse the course with the variations of exercises, text readings, etc.
- Plan to spend more of your time on disciplines that are more important for your future career.