Hi lovely readers,
I’m in my fourth year of my B.S.W. at a university in my city, and I love studying. That sounds crazy, but I genuinely do. I used to hate setting aside time to sit down and stare at a textbook for hours, but since I’ve figured out the most effective and time-saving methods of absorbing information for quizzes and writing papers, I find it soothing and enjoyable. I thought I’d share some of my tips here.
- Make it a comfortable, relaxing experience.
This involves a few things. Studying when you’re in a time-crunch because your test is the next day or your paper is due in 12 hours is never going to feel good. Get out your planner, and find pockets of time within your week, every week, that you can set aside to do your readings and review class notes, so you’re not stressed and rushed. Before one of these scheduled study sessions, I like to put on comfortable, soft clothes (usually leggings and a cozy sweater with an unstructured bra and fuzzy socks), light a candle or turn on my diffuser, make sure my room is clean, and I turn on my fairy lights. This makes my study space appealing and calm. I can’t study in mess or a disorganized space. I like to get a cup of tea or coffee and some fruit to snack on, as well.
2. Invest in some good supplies.
I like to add colour to my notes, so I have a set of pens in pastels that I use to denote changes in section when I’m writing. I also have several shades of highlighters, and I like the look and feel of a certain black pen for the majority of what I write, so I always keep one on hand. My notebooks are marble and have a space to write the date at the top, which I find really helpful when I need to go back and refer to information from a specific class or week.
3. Rewrite your class notes, and then highlight.
I take notes on my laptop during lectures, because I find the slides change too quickly for me to record everything I might need to know. But I don’t find I remember anything I’ve typed very well, so the next day or whenever I’m free to work at home after the class, I rewrite the lecture notes, and then when it’s time to review them for an exam or find data for a paper, I go back and highlight important parts. It’s the easiest way for me to remember content.
4. Share what you’ve learned.
The best way I’ve found to prepare for an exam, particularly ones with essay questions, is to regurgitate the information in some way. I choose to ask my family or friends to listen to me explain the topic I’m going to be writing about, as though I am teaching them the material. If you can really impart the main points to someone else, you’ll probably be able to do it when you sit down to take the test.
5. Leave time to edit, and edit out loud.
Have you ever submitted a paper that frustrated you so much you couldn’t even bring yourself to edit it first? Because I have. I eventually learned to start papers 2 weeks in advance – it usually takes me the first week to write it to completion, and then the second week is for editing. The easiest way to catch a run-on sentence or a typo is to read your paper aloud to yourself, so I recommend sitting down with your laptop and pretending you’re telling someone the story of the topic you’ve just written about.
6. Know your limits.
For some reason, although I assume it’s in part because I’ve found ways to make studying kind of pleasurable, I can sit for up to 3 hours and take notes or work on an essay. By the 2 hour 45 minute mark, I get kind of edgy, and bored, so that’s when I start to wrap things up and I mark down where I got to so I can resume at a later time. But everyone is different. The majority of people have their best focus for about 30-45 minutes at a time. If you’re someone that loses their motivation and energy after a certain period of time, notice when, and break it up. I’d recommend zoning out and watching an episode of a TV show, or if you’re a really fantastically healthy person, a workout can be great.
Those are all of my study tips! I hope you’re having a wonderful week and that if you’re in Canada, the weather isn’t getting you down. Thank you for reading and happy studying!
Lots of love,