Classes are officially over but exams haven’t even started yet. Yes it’s that time of year again. It’s the time of year where you feel like you can relax, sleep in, go out, have some fun, but really you can’t. You’ve got to stay inside, chained to a tiny little desk until it gets dark out. Then, you know, eat dinner, and study some more.
But most of us, the people who can’t muster up the motivation to study for 10 hours a day, get stuck in a sort of limbo between life and exams. Relaxation and xmas excitement take up half our mind space, and exams the other half. So how do we manage to do well on exams without studying as much as we “should”? I’ve managed to pull off pretty good grades over the years using the following ideas:
MAKE A DAILY SCHEDULE – you know you’re not going to wake up and study until you go to bed, so don’t plan on it. Not only will you get bored, frustrated, and even more stressed out, but you most likely won’t be taking in as much information as you think. The best way to study effectively without sacrificing an entire day is to set aside a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the afternoon for your studying. My theory is that you can break just as long as you study – you study 3 hours, take a 3 hour break. You can manage those breaks which ever way you decide, but make sure you give yourself enough time to still enjoy your day. You won’t dread studying as much if you have a time limit set.
DON’T STUDY AT NIGHT – There are a few exceptions to this rule, but otherwise it’s pretty straight forward. I find it is much easier to study during the day when you have plenty of light and are fairly awake. Personally, studying at night makes me fidgety, frustrated, stressed, tired, and puts me in a pretty bad mood. It also doesn’t precede great sleeping patterns. The evening is supposed to be a time to wind down, relax, and prepare for sleep. As we all know, sleep is the key ingredient in physical and mental health, so treat it well and don’t try to manipulate sleep by sleeping in extra late if you went to bed too late – you will be tired no matter what. Take the evening to watch a movie or decorate the christmas tree. The exceptions to this rule are that you personally may find that studying at night works best for you – if you’ve figured this out then you can skip this rule because study habits are personal so what works best for me may not suit everyone.
CHECK ALL YOUR FAVOURITE WEBSITES BEFORE YOU START STUDYING – This is exactly as it sounds. Ever start studying something and then the thought “I wonder if so and so has commented on my wall post yet…” flashes across your mind? You log onto facebook to check and then… an hour has gone by. Oh Shit! You quickly switch back to the books. What I do, especially when I sit down to write a paper, is open my computer, check up on facebook, check up on twitter, check up on perez hilton, check the weather, check my email.. check everything! I check everything I might possibly think of checking while I am studying. This way for atleast the next few hours I am reassured that I am all “social-network” updated. The worst thing is being interrupted during studying because it disrupts your thought patterns and sends your brain into a different mode. It takes a while to get your brain back into study mode and a lot of the studying you do in this “inbetween” period might be useless. Then, when a few hours have passed, allow yourself a break and check them all again. Trust me, this works if you are easily distracted by the internet.
DON’T TEXT AND STUDY We all know that texting causes impaired… everything. You’ve seen those people texting and about to walk right into you at school. You’ve seen the person behind you in traffic texting and holding up traffic from not paying attention. So, like the internet, texting is very distracting and won’t help you study any better. Turn off your phone or put it in another room. Unless you think there might be an emergency, you don’t need to have your phone on you. On your break you can check your phone and catch up. I’m pretty sure your friends will understand you’ve been studying.
FIND WHAT TIME OF DAY WORKS BEST FOR YOU My last rule. Tying all this together, you want to study at the time of day when you can concentrate the best, even if it means waking up early. For me, I’ve noticed this term that I can study the best between 9 and 11am. Between these hours I don’t even look up from my computer. It’s only 2 hours so usually I study until 12 but by then I’m usually hungry and can’t concentrate anymore. Then I take a lunch time break. I also study okay between 2 and 4pm. If you’re finding you can’t concentrate on your studying then you’re probably not doing it at the right time of day. Experiment. If you sleep in, try waking up according to your school schedule one day and study then. You never know. It would make sense if studying in the morning was the most effective because your brain is like a fresh palette then.
So these are the rules I usually follow when I study. The major exception to these rules is the day before your exam just give’err. Study as much as you need whenever you can but don’t cram up to the last minute. It won’t work and might cause you to choke in an exam. That’s happened to me.
So far this term I’m pulling in some of my best grades since highschool so I thought I’d share some of my studying tips, especially if this your first university term.
Have a good break and good luck on exams and keep reading over the break because blogging never takes a vacation :)