Studying is one of the best things a student can do to bolster their education – and one of the most dreaded parts of exam time! To make matters worse, if you’re not studying the right way, then no amount of flipping through notes will guarantee an A on your next test. If you find yourself lost in a sea of lectures, follow these study tips to become a better student.
Before You Study
1. Stay organized.
Get a good backpack that is meant for college students and keep it organized. Some people will never be seen without at least three different colors of highlighters, color-coded folders and notebooks for each class, and tabs and labels to separate their lecture notes. For others, “organization” means stuffing all relevant paperwork and notes into the middle of the textbook for that course.
If you’re a textbook-stuffer, but can still find your notes come exam time, then do whatever works for you. We can’t tell you what organizational method works for you; but you should spend some time trying to figure it out for yourself.
2. Take better notes.
This is another one of those study tips where we can’t tell you what works for you. However, many students find that organizing their notes like an outline, with headers that correspond to chapters and sections, helps separate the topics in their heads.
3. Ask early.
One of the reasons that homework exists is to help you identify what areas you struggle with. If you’re having trouble, don’t wait until exam time to ask questions.
4. Keep a calendar.
Studying can be hard even if you start the week before the test, but it’s much harder if the exam sneaks up on you! None of these study tips will help you if you try and cram all the information in last-minute.
5. Space things out.
It’s usually best to study a little bit after every lecture to make sure you retain the information. If that doesn’t fit with your schedule, try studying a little bit every day leading up to the test.
While You Study
6. Find your comfort zone.
For some, this will mean a comfortable chair with soft music playing (or total silence). But if you concentrate best with heavy metal blaring in the background, then you go for it! The best study tips are the ones personalized for your needs. Just try to keep some water nearby.
7. Look at all relevant materials.
Textbooks, lecture notes, homework, lab reports, graded assignments, handouts… whatever information you have for your class, gather it before you start studying and keep it with you.
8. Take breaks. (But not too many!)
Your brain can only handle so much information at once. Take a few minutes off somewhere between every 30 minutes to 2 hours, or anytime you feel frustrated or stuck. (But if you’re feeling stuck too often, you may need to review these study tips again and see what you can do better next time!)
9. Be careful studying in groups.
Bouncing ideas or information off of another person or a group can be a great tool… or it can be a major distraction. If you’re getting more chatting done than studying, don’t feel bad about excusing yourself and studying alone or use these tips while studying in group.
After You Study
10. Get some rest!
Eat a good dinner the night before, and a good breakfast the morning of the exam. Then, make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Bonus: following all these study tips will help you sleep better anyway, because you’ll know you don’t have to worry about succeeding.
Good luck, and happy studying!