Read on for some tried and true study tips from your SI Leaders.
When I am studying for any upcoming test, I always make sure that I can go to a place where I know I can focus on my work and not get distracted. This means I will usually go to my room or find a place in the library, I just need to make sure that I am away from things like a TV to make sure that my attention from studying does not keep getting pulled away. Once I find my spot, I like to make sure I log out of Facebook so that I do not have the convenience of just pulling up the page and having my news feed in front of me. At this point I start taking out my folder that has any handouts or homework that we worked on in class, my notebook that has all of my notes, and the book to look at for any questions I cannot answer using my notes. I make sure that I cover any notes and handouts that were covered during class. I also make sure to rework any problem that we had covered in class to ensure that I understand how to get to the answer. When I am studying, I make sure to take periodic breaks because after a certain point of looking at your notes you start to space out and start to just read and do not actually understand what you are looking at. I usually try to do anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour of studying and then take a little 5-10 minute break. It is not always important to just say that I studied for ten plus hours to get ready for this test, if the whole time you were studying you were distracted and did not put in your full concentration into studying. This becomes ineffective and wastes time you could be spending studying for another test.
My best piece of advice is to practice, practice, practice. Especially with subjects like accounting or math, repetition and practice is key. Go above and beyond what a professor requires of you. Many times a professor will give solutions for additional problems in the book; take the time to do them. If this isn’t available, check the textbook’s website for mini-quizzes, notecards, or other activities. Do a homework problem once using notes and the book, then come back to it the next day and see if you can do it on a blank sheet with no help. Practice makes perfect!
Try to get more than one source when studying for a particular subject. Don’t just rely on the material required for class but go out of your way to find books in libraries and online sources that speak about your subject. Multiple authors will give you different perspectives on how to approach the topic and will allow you to obtain a deeper understanding of the information.
Whenever my professors permit, I use the app One Note to take notes on my computer during lecture. It allows me to place attachments, pictures, graphs and anything else on the same page as my notes. But what is even more awesome – it syncs my notes and homework with all of my devices – tablet, smart phone, and computer. That allows me to have all of my school work anywhere I go and review on the train before class without having to take out books or paper. One Note is a free Microsoft product that can be used on Macs and iPhone too. Android users, look for it on Google Play.
When I really need to concentrate, I find a desk I can sit at with a comfortable chair (try the many tucked away areas in the library). Then, I need either silence or classical music (try this). I’ve heard that music with lyrics can be distracting, and it usually is so I stick with something instrumental. I take copious notes in class and this allows me to organize my thoughts better since I am a visual learner and I need to convert the professor’s auditory words into something I can see. I try to categorize my notes with headings in an outline format (kind of like this). This helps me see the information in a tiered way and I can add special notes with arrows and asterisks. These are my strategies for studying independently, but it also helps to form a study group in order to discuss more difficult concepts and/or practice demonstrating what I know and don’t know.
We will add more tips in the coming weeks! Make sure to check back soon.