Mental HealthOn Campus

Studying for Dummies!

Editor’s note – This article was originally published in 2011.

It seems that constantly people complain about how difficult their classes are, how they don’t know how to
study, and how when they do study – they don’t do good anyway. If you’ve said any of these things, you might need to make some changes. 

Take some time to re-evaluate your study techniques. If they haven’t been working, maybe it’s time to try something new. Perhaps, maybe a bit of a change is needed in order to keep things exciting and to motivate you to receive the good grades you deserve.

Psychological studies and comparisons show that these techniques are highly-favorable and efficient.

1. Create a practice test.
Take some time out to create a pretend test using the notes from your class, and the information that is going to be on your REAL test. By creating a make-believe test, you are taking the time to discover what might actually be on the exam.

2. Create a Review Sheet
Take all of the vital information from your notes and type it in a word document. Answer specific questions that you know are bound to be on the test, and explain concepts. This will insure that you study the right information, as opposed to useless information that won’t appear on the test. Typing the information up will help refresh it all in your memory, and it will only get better when you actually study the material off of it. You will be ready in no time to answer the relating questions on the exam.

3. Flash Cards.
People seem to think that this invention is only useful for elementary students. This is not true. Write the term, word or phrase on one side of the card and define it on the other. By writing out index cards, you are actually studying in the process because writing is a form of meditating on information. Mix up the written cards, understand them, memorize them. Better yet, create a game! If you get one card wrong, go back to the beginning and start over until you get all the cards right.

4. Study Group
For the most part, people enjoy being accompanied by others. Get together with friends/acquaintances in your class and go over the material a few days before the test. As long as there’s no fooling around and everyone’s focused, the time should go by fairly quickly and friends can help to get you to digest the needed information.

5. Short, Frequent Sessions.
If you try to knock out hours worth of studying, it’s likely you will lose focus. Take that Facebook break, meet up with friends for a bit. Just keep in mind that studying is a priority and that you have to go back to it. By allowing yourself rest, you are rejuvenating your mind and body so that you can be prepared to study and remember all the information.

6. Spread out material
Some classes will give you a thick stack of information and tell you to memorize it. For example, your science class may expect you to remember all of the information within seven power-point presentations. You can’t possibly remember all of that information in a day! Split up the power-points and study them over a course of four days. Study two the first day, two the second, one on the third and then back to two on the fourth. You’ve studied all the information without cramming!

7. Do not study more than one subject in a day.
It can get confusing trying to remember a bunch of sheets and information that in no way correlate. You may even start to confuse information, if the topics/classes are similar. The best approach to study for more than one exam is to schedule out which days in the week you will study specific material (i.e – Criminal Justice on Monday, Bio on Tuesday, Bio on Wednesday and Criminal Justice on Thurs.) Through trial-and-error figure out which patterns work for you!

8. Change backgrounds
If you always study in your dorm room. You may start to feel isolated, alone and downright bored. Switch it up. If it’s a nice day… sit on a bench and study, or go to the library where you’ll see familiar faces. Isolating oneself and being confined to a specific spot can get frustrating. Going to a new place will refresh the atmosphere and keep you more inclined to open your notes, and focus to on them.

9. Talk to Yourself
Most people don’t have photographic memories. Therefore, reading your notes a few times probably will not cut it. Read your notes aloud, and repeat them to yourself. Understand the meanings of what you’re reading. Memorization is not enough, it is more efficient to understand the concepts of what you’re studying. By repeating them out loud over and over, they are more likely to sink in.

Take days off. You do not need to study every single day. By incorporating, the gym, friends and other activities into your schedule you won’t feel like you’re wasting your college life away, or losing any social time. Stress keeps the mind from absorbing information. Therefore, enjoy the time you are not studying! Don’t stress because you feel like you SHOULD be studying. Your notes aren’t going anywhere…

Which studying technique works best for you? Comment and let us know!