July 23, 2019

August is quickly approaching, and the beginning of the fall semester is following closely behind.  I know that many people are going to be starting college for the first time, so I wanted to round up a list of my favorite tricks for studying and doing well in college classes.

Since college classes typically require your study routine to be highly disciplined, I've had to slightly modify my studying habits from high school in order to stay on top of the material.  These tips are the result of that modification.  Without further ado:

Prep For A Day

1. Read your required materials before class.  Even if you just take five minutes to skim over the main ideas of a reading excerpt, you'll be more knowledgeable than if you do nothing.

2. Actually write your notes;  don't just highlight certain words or type everything.  Whether you use paper or an iPad, learn how to hand write your notes in a method that's easy for you to organize and understand.  There is evidence that shows that handwriting your notes enables you to retain information more readily.

3. Learn how to study the right amount.  For example, I have a bad habit of overstudying material.  I'll look over so many practice tests and summaries that the information starts to run together.  Get a feel for how much studying you actually need to feel comfortable with the material you've been given.

4. Don't feel pressured to study in the library or in large groups.  Sometimes those scenarios can be great, but sometimes they can be too noisy and distracting to be conducive to productive learning.

5. Start reviewing for tests several days in advance.  In other words, don't try to cram.  You've probably heard this advice before, but trust me on this.  Research consistently demonstrates that cramming does nothing positive for your long-term retention of information.  Spacing out your studying is a much more productive and effective method.

6. Know how to identify topics that you're having trouble with.  After all, this is how you improve your comprehension of a concept.  Make a list of the topics that you struggle with, and emphasize them when you're studying.

7. Don't feel pressured to have beautiful notes.  Unless the calligraphy and hand drawn diagrams greatly improve your comprehension rate, rewriting your notes generally just takes up an excess of time.

8. Ask yourself questions about the material that you're learning.  Test yourself, and identify the gaps in your knowledge.  I've often thought that I understood a concept until I started quizzing myself on it.

9. Try to explain the concepts to another person.  This is another great way to identify where your knowledge of a subject is lacking.  The official term for this is the Feynman Technique.

10. Go to class.  Don't rely on online summaries or video lectures.  There is no substitute for sitting in the classroom and hearing a lecture in person.  It's far too easy to let yourself fall behind on watching online materials;  furthermore, professors typically aren't required to post them, so many don't.

Let me know if any of these prove helpful to you!


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