Studying To Achieve Great Results
Studying isn't just putting in time with a book in front of you. Worthwhile studying requires an attentive, active mind that's focused on the task at hand.
To get the most out of your study time, you need to work in an enviroment that helps you focus.
Turn off the TV. Television makes demands on your eyes and ears, so if you're "studying" while you watch, you're shortchanging something. Either that sitcom deserves more of your attention or a whole lot less.
Work out rules about the study time with roomates, housemates, and family so you can study without interruption. If you have pets, train them to leave you alone at these times.
Find a place free of distractions. If you can study effectively in social enviroments like cafés, fine. If you're distracted by people watching, be honest with yourself and don't go to the café until after you've studied. Reduce your exposure to things that compete for your attention. Don't study at your computer if emails is a distraction; don't study with the radio on if you can't help humming along to every song you hear.
Find a specific study area with good lighting. Wheter it's a room in your home, a corner of the library, or the ice-fishing shack on the lake, train yourself to go into study mode when you enter this space.
Libraries are obvious candidates for good study spaces. They offer many supplementary resources, if you happen to need them, and are otherwise relatively free of time wasting temptations.
Procrastination can be doubly disspiriting: at the end of the day, not only have you not done the schoolwork you were suppose to, but you also have to face the fact that you've spent three hours rearranging your cd cases so their spines look like a rainbow spectrum. The guilt and dejection you feel can make it even harder to get started. You're better off recognizing your tendency to procrastinate - and combating it cleverly - than simply bemoaning it.
When faced with a big task like a long paper or an impending final exam, you may feel you have no idea where to begin. Sometimes, the result is paralysis. To avoid this and other, milder forms of procrastination try the following:
Break the task into smaller parts. Study one unit of a chapter. Memorize one subset of Spanish irregular verbs. Track your progress in these smaller units.
Tell other people what you're working on. It's easier to procrastinate when you're the only one who knows how little work you've actually gotten done.
Do first whatever portion of the work you are most reluctant to do. If you get to a point at which you realize you're avoiding the next step, don't stop. Give yourself a little procrastination time later as a reward for pushing past the difficult part and doing some portion of what you're avoiding.
Rewards in general are a good idea. Beating procrastination sometimes amounts to little more than bribing your inner child - giving him dessert if he eats his broccoli. If you were going to watch a little TV before you started the paper, make yourself write four paragraphs first, or a complete outline and an introduction.
Budgeting your time is a key to being successful student. Before you can think about how to use the time you spend studying, you need to ensure that you make time to study.
Time is a resource, and before you change how you allocate it, you need to understand how you use it now.
Though it may seem annoying, the best approach is to take a week and monitor your time use in half-hour blocks.
Have a small pad or a scrap of paper handy. When you finish an activity, or whenever it occurs to you, write down what you've been doing. It's harder to remember everything at the end of the day.
Be honest. The purpose of this exercise is to gain an accurate picture of how you use your time. Remember that the point isn't to eliminate all non-study or nonproductive time, but to be concious about where your time goes so you can make informed decisions.
How much time did you spend sleeping eating, studying, sitting in class, participating in sports, working at a job, watching a tv, playing video games, feeding your pets, or whatever. Are you surprised by the results? Are you spending more time doing some activities than you'd like? Now, take this information and put it to good use. Plan the upcoming week.
Once you have an idea of how you use your time, look at your needs and obligations for the week and budget your necessary study time across the days. Be realistic. You can't utilize every minute in the day productively - you need a little downtime, and you don't want to banish all spontaneity from your life. But knowing how much you study time you need each week, as well as how much time your other obligations require, can help you build your week around these needs - and know what consequences to expect if you don't.
Decide how many hours you need to spend studying. This total may change from week to week, but you should allocate a basic amount of time below which you won't drop. For weeks when you have major papers due, or before big exams, you might need to budget more time. Every sunday take 15 minutes and map out your week, scheduling in study time around your obligations.
Know when you're at your most alert and use this time to study. If you get tired at night, don't put your chief study time between 10pm and midnight. Experiment with getting up earlier to see if you're sharp in the morning.
Prioritize. Which schoolwork is most important? Which is most urgent? The answers may be different each week. Not all school related activities are of equal value or importance -you know this. When you're budgeting your time, make sure you allocate enough time for the most important and most urgent tasks. If you have long term projects that are important, don't give them short shrift just because they aren't yet urgent.
Sleep is important. Your study time won't be worth much if you're constantly tired. Your play time won't be much fun either.
You'll probably discover that you spend a lot of time just spacing out; waiting for people; or riding a bus, subway, or train. These interludes are well suited to certain forms of study - particularly memorization and repetition. So develop some portable study aids. For language class, make cue cards of vocabulary; for chemistry formulas; for history, names and facts. Carry them with you when you leave the house and make use of your waiting time.
You need to have a level of studying that you can sustain, or else you'll just wear yourself down. That means time with friends, time listening to music, watching a movie, exercising, walking, and starring out the window. Any schedule that completely eliminates these activities is probably not schedule you're going to stick to.
Calenders, you'll need several calenders.
A calender with just your classes and standing obligations
A calender with just the due dates you know at the beginning of the term, from your class syllabi: midterm exams, final exams, final papers, etc. Display this prominently in your work are so you can keep in mind the big picture for whole semester.
A calender or planner that you add to and refer to daily. This should incorporate long-term deadlines but also include your weekly assignments and their due dates.
Make a quick to-do list in the morning or before you go to bed. Refer to your weekly calender. Check off each item as you finish.
Using your schedules
Unforeseen events take place, and situations change. Be as firm as you can but adjust when you have to. At least you'll know how much time you're putting in compared to how much you need to.
Be aware of your priorities. If you keep putting something off, recognize this avoidance: it's probably something you really need to do - and something that you think is hard to do. Break it down into smaller parts and do a part of it today.
Refer to your semester calender and your syllabus so you can anticipate the demands on your time several weeks in advance.
It is easier to remember things when you understand them. In the long run, it's also more useful. If you are trying to remember something, check yourself. Can you define it? Can you give examples of it? Can you describe how it is related to other things? Some material requires rote memorization, but teaching today places less emphasis on remembering dates and names and more understanding relationships and processes.
Mnemonic devices. This is a whole suite of memory improvement exercises and techniques. Some of these basic techniques are probably quite familiar to you. In general, It can be helpful to make associations with things you already know, so that what you know will remind you of what you've just learned.
Acronyms. Ex: HOMES = Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior (the great lakes).
Acrostics. Ex: Every Good Boy Does Fine = E, G, B, D, F (the notes that make up the staff lines in the tremble clef).
Linking information to physical locations.
Word association. Associating Information with words that sound similar.
Reviewing. A day later, you remember very little of what you have to read, This doesn't mean you have totally forgotten the information. You see when you review it how quickly it comes back. Reviewing frequently reinforces those connections our brain makes, mysterious machinery of memory.