My previous post was on de stressing tips, then I thought why not write on how to study better. I am no expert in excelling in tests or examinations, but I thought why not just share what I do, since it did get me here!
Tip 1: What is important?
Don’t expect to read everything on your topic – it would take a lifetime! Be an – think about what you want to find out before you start. Choose a few texts to read thoroughly rather than trying to skim read many. If you find that all the books on the reading list have been taken out, ask the library staff for help to find something that will be equally useful.
Make useful notes, not copious ones – if you try to write down everything the lecturer says you won’t be able to focus on listening. Take notes on selected points and underline or highlight the important ones to make them more obvious. Add any thoughts of your own that arise, but make it clear that they’re your own ideas. Check what’s going to be in the handouts – you may not need to note things like dates and figures.
Tip 2: Use technology to help you
There are lots of different ways that we can use technology to help us in our studies; from making sure university emails are sent to your private account to recording lecture notes on mobile devices or using bibliographic software to manage references.
Tip 3: Ask, Ask, Ask
Know when to ask for help – and where to get it – there’s a lot to get used to when you come to university, and no-one finds it all easy. One of your most important responsibilities is to yourself – to recognise when you need help and to know where to get it. There are plenty of people whose job is to help you get yourself sorted. You can talk to your personal tutor, a Study Adviser, a Counsellor, or one of DUSA’s Student Advisers.
Tip 4: Studying at the right times of the day
Find your perfect ‘study time’ – Some people are ready to go from the movement they wake up, whilst others remember the most at around 3am in a silent library. Experiment with different times so you can figure out what suits you.
Tip 5: Best places to study
It is counterproductive to study for extended hours at a time in an uncomfortable environment. For this reason, you should find a place to study that is comfortable. You want to make sure you do not suffer any back, wrist, or other physical discomfort while you study. Even small discomforts can eventually result in more serious physical problems. It’s also a good idea to make sure you have all the materials you need to study, such as pens and books, nearby your study area.
It’s also good idea to study in a well lit area since it can be difficult to study with poor lighting even if the environment is perfect. Studying in the basement of library may seem the perfect location, but if there isn’t any natural light, it will have a negative effect.
Don’t study in bed – Your bed is for sleeping and watching repeats of Come Dine With Me – your brain won’t be switched to knowledge in-take gear if you study under your duvet.
Tip 6: Study groups: useful or not useful?
Forming a study group will make you feel less alone when you’re studying. Make sure everyone in the group is on the same page; braggers, slackers, and super-stressed people won’t make you feel any better.
Tip 7: Flashcards
Uni is not like school; a lot of the ways we used to work do not lead to good grades at this level. We all find it hard to adapt to being more independent and working more critically and efficiently. Attending a Skills Workshop to get new ideas from the staff and other students (including us, your Skills Leaders) is a great way to learn about alternative study techniques.
Many students are visual learners which means just reading something over and over again isn’t going to cut it. Visual learners need sights, images and visual concepts to make things stick. Organising your material into charts, maps and diagrams. Websites such as Brainscape, Anki, Memrise can help with this.
Tip 8: Keep yourself Healthy
We cannot get the most out of university if we are ill. Make sure you eat enough fruit and veg and sleep enough to help you fight off all the Freshers’ Flu and other nasty bugs. These seem to be particularly present around exam and assignment times, so keep on top of your healthy eating.
Remember your mental health too. If you are getting stressed about something – get help. The CASTLE Team can help you with academic stuff and the Student Wellbeing Service can help with most other things.
Tip 9: Avoid Distractions
Avoid distractions with student apps – At the end of 2013, Apple announced that 1 million apps are now available in their app store. With a huge variety of Apple, Android and web-apps – there are definitely a number of student apps that can help you study better.
For example, the SelfControl app blocks distracting sites for a set amount of time. Some universities may block certain websites, but this is a great way to ensure you focus on the task at hand, getting the grades you want.
Tip 10: Learn to Relax
It can’t be all about study, study, study. If you have achieved a study goal, or mastered a particular tricky bit of material – do reward yourself with something you like doing. Quick game of Fifa, a new coat of nail polish or a chat with a mate.
Good luck, and enjoy your time studying for your exams!