For most, college is the first true experience of independence. Everything you do is up to you: If you want to go to bed at 4 a.m. or skip class, there’s no nagging mom or dad to stop you. But with that freedom, it is also crucial to remember to stay on top of things. And it’s that time of year again when assignments pile up one after another, after another. It can be difficult to motivate or teach yourself how to take the time to study, so I’ve compiled a list of the five best study tips to help you get through the year.
1. Know yourself and the best ways for you to concentrate
Do you work best by yourself, or in a group? Can you listen to music or do you need silence? Do you prefer to study in the library or in your room? Questions like these are vital for maximizing your study time. Knowing what works best for you makes studying much more efficient — I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve wasted trying to study in surroundings that do not fit my study needs. What I can tell you is that studying with distractions is inevitably hopeless; not only will you get no work done, but you will also fall behind in your classes. Find what works best for you and stick to it.
2. Prioritize your workload
Somehow, it always seems that every major project or test is assigned for the same week. One thing that has personally helped me complete all of my work is to know on Sunday what I have to do for the entire week. That way I can figure out what assignments will take the longest or which will be the hardest to complete and start there. If you know you will have a lot of big assignments due on the same week, work ahead so that you’re not struggling to complete research paper, a presentation, and study for a test all in the same night.
3. Find fun ways to learn/memorize information
Let’s face it, studying is boring with a capital B. Traditional ways of studying, such as creating flashcards or quizzing yourself are extremely helpful. However, there are some ways to spice up your study habits. If you have to memorize information, create crazy stories or acronyms. Studies show that we tend to remember details better when they are part of a larger story or picture. Chances are you learned some sort of acronym similar to Never Eat Soggy Waffles in order to remember the directions on a compass. So who is to say that you can’t make up a silly phrase for the information you’re learning now? Another fun way to learn information is by creating some sort of game that you (and perhaps a study group) can play to review material.
4. Don’t cram
Forget all-nighters, and remember these two S’s: Sleep and Space. Studies show that students do better on tests after having a full night’s sleep. If you know that you have a big test on Monday, try to get eight hours of sleep Sunday night. Additionally, space out your studying. It has been proven that cramming is not nearly as effective as studying for a short period of time over multiple days. Don’t get into the habit of not caring about a test until the night before – try to study nights in advance in order to get that A.
5. Create rewards for yourself
Another way to stay motivated is to create rewards for yourself. Knowing that a little treat is waiting for you once you complete an assignment makes it so much easier to avoid procrastination and sit down and focus. Study for an hour, then give yourself a 10 minute break or grab a snack. By creating small goals and rewards for yourself, hopefully some of the stress of studying will be relieved.