Its time to crack down. With one week left and finals just around the corner, its make or break in the college universe. I have papers to write and tons of material to catch up on for reading and the stress levels are growing. You can check out my previous post Dealing With Stress about how to calm yourself before the storm hits. I think this is very important that during your study time you take breaks and don't get too stressed, check out my post on Motivation during the hell week of finals. However, for this post, I think I am going to share some of my tricks and methods for studying.
1. Flashcards || These are only good for some material in some classes. I would not recommend creating piles and piles of flashcards for every term in every class because you might just go insane. It is important use flashcards sparingly. I think they are the best for vocab in a language, dates, and people. However, you might think they are great for terms in psychology class too. However, find which few classes you want to use flashcards for and only use them for those classes and not all. Developing different methods for different classes is also great because it helps you compartmentalize the material and keep it all separate.
2. Study Guides || These have their own ups and downs... While on the one hand they are super beneficial they tend to take a while to make. Often what I will do is while I am reading material, I take notes in the form of a study guide that way I have something to go back to. I prefer a two-column note taking method but do whatever works for you! If you think taking time to make a study guide is a waste for you, then do not feel like you have to. The key thing about studying is you need to find your own methods that work for and help you get those A's. For me, I need to rewrite material many times in different forms and be super repetitive about my process.
3. Create a good note taking system || As mentioned above this is what works for you. I have found over the years that I use a different method depending on what class I am in and how the professor teaches. If it is a lecture with no Powerpoint and just the professor standing in front of the room talking, I take two column notes. These are Cornell style with big terms on the left column and notes in the right. That way you can freely take notes as the teacher talks and just put the big terms they mention of the other side. I also use this method for taking notes while reading a textbook. However, if there is a Powerpoint I just follow the outline the teacher set up because they think the headlines and points they selected are important. Don't feel restricted to follow what they did and always be prepared to add more.
4. Use Mnemonics || These are the fun devices you used to use as kids to help you learn the Great Lakes (HOMES) or the order of operations (Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally). Continue to use these because they are great ways to recall information. Often times we study very hard but are unable to recall the information when needed. Its all in our head we just can't retrieve it. Creating mnemonics is one way to facilitate this.
5. Practice Tests || One of the most annoying things that happens when you take a test is that you remember studying the exact material and can maybe even locate in your notes in your brain but you just can't form it to answer the question. By taking practice tests you let yourself become more familiar with retrieving the information that you studied. It's not so much about the grade you get on the practice test, but the process of taking the test and retrieving what you studied. Then you can go back and restudy information that you didn't know immediately.
Study takes time and really isn't something that can just be done the night before. For me, doing about an hour every day for a few days is much better than 4 hours the night before. However, everyone is different. Learn what works for you and stick with it! Don't get frustrated when one method doesn't work, just try a new one. While I only mentioned a few options above there are tons of study tips and tricks out there. I wish you all luck on your studying and finals and summer will come soon:)
Do you have any awesome study tricks?