Studying for anything, whether it's a weekly quiz or a final exam, can seem overwhelming. Learning how to study in college by getting organized and knowing when to give yourself a break can make your study sessions less stressful and more productive.
Establish Good Study Habits
To avoid last minute cramming, keep up with your notes from the very beginning.
- Participate during lectures and in group discussions. The more interaction you have with the course material, the more information you're likely to retain.
- Find a note-taking strategy that works for you and keep your notes updated as you move through your courses.
- Review the previous week's notes before starting the next lesson.
- Pull the most important information from your notes and write them out by hand as a summary of facts and ideas from each week.
Once you decide on a place where you can study uninterrupted, take the time to create a space that increases your productivity.
- Arrange your workspace. Minimize the clutter in your study area. Remove notebooks and paper that you don't need from your space. Limiting the amount of extraneous items will help you focus. Even though you're stripping down your workspace, a minimalist study area doesn't have to be boring - use your favorite pens and notebooks, have stacks of colorful sticky notes and decorate with a few pieces of art or motivating personal items to make you feel more comfortable and give your workspace personality.
- Make a study board. If you need stricter structure, a study board mixes the organization of a weekly planner with the personalized style of a bullet journal to keep track of due dates and goals. Assign days and times for your weekly reviews and which courses to study when. Using the study board as the backdrop to your desk, on your fridge or on your wall, you'll have your schedule planned out and visible - all you have to do is stick to it.
- Limit your distractions. Sometimes it's difficult to focus on what you need to do when you're getting notifications from social media on your phone, watching television or finding yourself taking online quizzes instead of reading over your notes. When studying, turn off the television. If you need background noise, create a study playlist with classical music or instrumental tracks.
- Remove the temptation to procrastinate. Try using a web based app such as Cold Turkey to block off a period of time where you don't want to be able to surf the web or visit social media sites. Through the app, you can customize when you want uninterrupted study time, what specific apps you'd like to block and which apps you're allowed to access. With Cold Turkey, if you're easily distracted, you can also completely "lock yourself out of your computer" for a set length of time.
How To Study For Finals
Even with great study habits, studying for a final exam can be stressful. There are a few things you can do in addition to your weekly reviews to feel more confident before your exam.
Make Studying Work For You
- Devise a study process that's interesting and entertaining for you. Create a study guide based on your learning style and quiz yourself using note cards. If you're a visual learner, make your note cards colorful. If you're more of an auditory learner, read your notes aloud. Using mnemonic devices and rhymes or diagrams and sketches to connect ideas can make it easier to remember things for your finals.
- Be open to joining a study group. Whether you're working together online or in person, a study group can bring together multiple ways of learning and retaining information that you may have not considered trying.
Take Care Of Yourself
Studying for finals includes more than just organization and learning how to remember things. Taking care of yourself mentally and physically can only help you to succeed.
- Prepare for anything you might need. Keep a healthy snack, water and maybe a cup of coffee nearby so you don't have to stop what you're doing. Interruptions in your studying can lead to distractions. Having these things on hand will keep you from pausing to take more breaks than necessary.
- Actively study, but set limits. Give yourself regular breaks for at least 10 minutes every hour. If you are taking multiple courses, alternate between them to keep yourself from getting restless or overwhelmed. Be sure to eat, hydrate and exercise. Stretch, take a walk if you're able or just get outside for some fresh air. Rather than being distractions, these short breaks rejuvenate you physically and mentally. You'll be able to continue studying for finals feeling refreshed.
- Don't forget to sleep. While you may be tempted to stay up until the wee hours of the morning putting as much information to memory as you can, overdoing it on caffeine and not getting enough rest will only hinder your performance.
Try using these methods to help you study in college and you'll be breathing a little easier when it's time to put your knowledge to the test.
Ashley Wallis is an Army veteran and writer with a bachelor's in English language and literature from SNHU. She is currently living in the Denver area. Find her on Twitter @AshDWallis.