As a person who made it through high school not really needing to study, one of the most daunting parts about the transition to college was finding study habits that work best for me. Professors, peers, and parents all told me to make note cards and pair up with someone and quiz each other. Well, this doesn’t work for me because I hate notecards. So if you are like me, and don’t enjoy the more traditional ways of studying, here’s some tips that I have found work for me!
- Study in small chunks—this is probably the most important thing I will say— through a period of a week or so. Whatever you do, do NOT start studying 3 days before your test! I just had a huge art history test where I had to know 30 works of art, where they are from, the date they were created, what they were made out of, and who made them. There was no way I could’ve known everything if I had started a couple days before the test. So what I did was everyday, if I was bored or had some free time, I would flip through my notes and review some of the works of art.
- Make connections. Everyone always says “learn don’t memorize.” But that’s easier said than done. I have found that the more I can relate the content to my own life the better I can understand the idea. Relating to the content can be through your own experiences, or through talking to your fellow classmates to find connections there, or by turning it into a story.
- Find patterns. Studying becomes so much easier when you can group the information into smaller groups that way it is not so overwhelming. This can also be a great way to stay on top of cumulative classes. You not only learn the information but how it connects to previous information that you have learned in the class. This is especially helpful the more advanced the subject is.
- Repetition is key. If you have to know a certain order of something, it helps to just go over it again and again in your head or saying it out loud. Even if you are going over your notes and you feel that you kinda know it all, keep going over it until you don’t even need to look at your notes to say it.
- Talk about it with someone. If you have a boyfriend/girlfriend, or just a person that you can talk about random things with, enlighten them on the topic that you are studying. Be like “Hey, did you know…” this allows you to recall the information and “study” in a very informal way. Informal teaching, or explaining, is also a great way for you to understand and retain said knowledge. And hey, you can make your friend smarter!
- Find a buddy. It does help to have a classmate in which you can bounce concepts off of or ask questions to. You don’t necessarily need to study with them all the time, but maybe once during your study time meet up with them and just discuss what you are studying. Another option could be simply talking to them about a specific topic that you were having issues wrapping your head around right before or after class. Save this for smaller ideas though, in case your or your classmate has to run off to another class, or work, or if class is about to start. If more topics arise it may be time for a formal study session together. Ireally does help to say things out loud.
- Take breaks! Studying can be extremely exhausting. Try to study for 45 min – 2 hours depending on how you are feeling, and then go eat, go to the gym or go to the mall with friends. That way, you can come back with a refreshed brain!
- Mix and Match. Study by using a combination of methods and by using your notes as well as the book. Don’t feel as if you have to stick to one method of studying.
Studying shouldn’t be a daunting thing, take it one step at a time. If these things work for you, then great! If not, that’s ok too, we are all very different, and learn in all different ways. These are just some things that I’ve found help me succeed! If you were curious (or not, I’m still going to brag, hehe), I got a 96% on my art history test!!