The air is slowly turning crisper, the freckles on our faces are beginning to fade, and sightings of yellow buses and stationary sales are becoming more abundant, which means one thing and one thing only…back to school!
I remember being younger and feeling this weird mix of both anticipation and nervousness when the first day of September hit and my parents dragged me and my little brother out to buy new uniforms. I would be eager to find out which class I was in, make new friends, and do fun activities, but school also came with the one thing I never quite managed to get the hang of: studying.
I won’t say I’m a total revision expert now that I’m at university. I mean, I love to procrastinate and watch one more episode of Gossip Girl instead of revising in the best of times. But when you learn to mature a little and think in the long term, you realize that books aren’t the enemy. Once I understood the power knowledge holds (as cheesy as that sounds), I was SO much more interested in studying, and that resulted in what I would say are pretty decent grades. Today, I wanted to share with you the exact process of how I study, from beginning to end, as well as give you my top tips for getting the grades you want! Let’s begin.
Get into the right mindset.
And no, that does not mean watching all the Harry Potter scenes where Hermione is studying to give you “#inspo”. You need to write down exactly why you’re doing this. A good job? A better life? More knowledge on the subject you love? What’s pushing you? Why are you spending so much money and time on this? There has to be a reason why you are where you are. Figure out what it is and let it drive you.
Gather all your supplies.
When I was younger and I bought pretty stationary to use whilst studying, my friends always used to tell me that it was a waste of time and that I should be more focused on the actual content rather than making it look nice. But what they didn’t realize was that using colors and pretty glitter pens that smelt like fruit actually got me in the mood to study. What I’m trying to say is: you do you. Get the craziest patterned notebooks, or pastel markers, or whatever floats your boat. Personally, I make do with blank paper, flashcards, different colored highlighters and pens, and a binder with clear pockets to organize everything into.
Pick a good time and place.
There have been studies done that prove how certain environments get the brain unconsciously prepared to do something if it has been trained that way. I’m a huge believer of this. I make it a point to study only at my desk and whilst I do, I have a very specific candle that I light (Mahogany by H&M). I also like to study only late at night or early in the morning, as this is when everybody is asleep and there are no other distractions. I definitely recommend finding a place, whether that be your own desk, or your living room couch, or your local library…anything will do. Just stay away from your bed, as tempting as it may be!
The Nitty Gritty
Read and highlight.
Whatever resources your instructor has given you, read them all and highlight or underline the important bits. At this stage, you just need to be able to distinguish the important information from the airy-fairy bits. Don’t worry about learning or memorizing anything. Just take it all in.
Write all the important information you’ve highlighted in an organized way.
This step is crucial because the stuff you write down is the stuff you’re going to learn. Don’t go crazy and copy the entire textbook, but also check, then double-check, that you haven’t left anything important out. If you’ve taken notes in class, incorporate them into your writing, too. Essentially all you’re doing here is remaking notes. Make sure you paraphrase because you want to make sure you’re not just passively reading and writing, but actually understanding the material.
Concise the information further and transfer it onto flashcards.
I love me a good ol’ deck of flashcards. There’s just something satisfying about the way they all align and make you look oh-so-studious. Luckily, not only are they cute, but they also allow you to have your information handy at pretty much all times. Of course, this step isn’t necessary and you can totally skip it, but I’ve found carrying flashcards around is really convenient. Sometimes, I’ll be out for a meal with the family or some friends, whip my cards out to review some terms for a couple of minutes, and just slip them back into my bag like nothing ever happened. Except – hey! I now know what year the Ottoman Empire fell! So the verdict is: yes to the flashcards.
Last Minute Tips
Use practice tests.
Ask your instructor for some, or find some online. If nothing is available, make your own. As you’re studying, just pop open a word document, write a few questions down, and forget about them until this step. All this does is make you feel better about knowing the information, and allows you to realize if you have any gaps in your knowledge so you can fill them.
Organize, organize, organize.
Personally, I LOVE keeping everything neat and tidy. I like to use binders to keep copies of the chapter, the notes I wrote, as well as all of my flashcards all in one place.
That’s it from me! Go forth and test, friends. And if you liked this academic-styled post, I will also be posting another school/university advice one soon so keep an eye out for that!
What’s your best study tip?