The thing they don’t tell you: How to Study
We have now reached the four-week point in the semester, so naturally every class you’re taking is going to be having a test within the next two weeks. Besides your teacher telling you that you should have started studying for said test five weeks ago, they don’t tend to freely give out study tips.
Everyone has their own techniques and study tips that work for them, but I thought I would list a few that I too find helpful:
- Start early. While I know you can’t realistically start studying before the class starts, a week ahead of the test is a good rule of thumb. Of course this time can shrink or grow depending on how well you know the material. Start with the older stuff and work your way forward. That way if your teacher likes to cram a lot of information into the final classes before the exam, you can focus on that instead of the older work.
- Mnemonic devices: the more bizarre the better. These are my favorite when it comes to memorizing. Basically, take what you’re trying to memorize and compare or associate it with something you know well. For example, the amino acid tryptophan has a one letter abbreviation of W, which makes no sense. I think of tryptophan rhyming with Wu-Tang Clan whose hand symbol was a W. Weird right? But it works.
- Whiteboards are your best friend; especially if you’re a biology or chemistry major. My roommate and I bought a huge whiteboard from home depot (FYI: they sell them for $10!) and put it on our living room wall. Not only is it great for diagram drawing, but it saves a ton of paper and you can see the material big picture. Plus, it’s just kind if fun to write on a whiteboard…
- Set Goals. Tell yourself if you get to a certain spot in your notes you can go do something or reward yourself, even if it’s just getting dinner. Goals motivate you to finish what you started and discourage you from giving up.
- It is totally okay to check the score of the game. (Hey, just because you have to study doesn’t mean you should forget about the important stuff.) But in all seriousness, breaks are really important when studying. For me, I usually study for an hour or two and then take a break. During the break, it’s good to get up and move around, don’t just sit in your room or in the library.
- Use your classmates. Some people are better at some subjects than others. Once you have been studying the material long enough, it’s nice to get together in study sessions to review and clarify anything you’ve had trouble with. Other people may have the answers. (Oh, and your whiteboard is good for this too!)
- Sleep is still important. What is the point of pulling an all-nighter and cramming the day before a test? By the time you have to take the test, you’re sluggish and not thinking as clearly or you’re jittery on caffeine. A full night’s sleep is better in my opinion.
So while you may or may not do these things already, these are the kind of rules I follow when I have to study. Nobody likes to do it, but what would college be without exams? Happy studying.