Where has the summer gone? With the blink of an eye, back- to-school season is here again. What are some of your aspirations for this new academic year? Handing in all of your assignments on time? Improving your overall GPA by 0.2? Getting an A in that class you always found challenging? No matter what you hope to achieve, know that you will eventually make it possible as long as you have the heart for it. Here are some of my study tips on how you could start the year strong:
This piece of advice applies to doing anything really–planning ahead for your work schedule, or even your grocery shopping list, will reduce your stress from trying to figure out whether you have made time for everything. It works the same way for studying. Assign each task specific time slots for completing them; this ensures that you do not have to scramble in the last minute, regretting that you have not left enough time to polish, to edit, to discuss, or to ask questions.
Some ways of studying, such as copying your notes and rereading / highlighting the contents of your textbook, are passive ways that can easily make you feel bored. You are unlikely to remember anything if your mind has decided that the task at hand is boring. Therefore, always opt for study methods that entice you so as to keep your mind active and interested. Look for platforms that allow you to store digital flashcards and ask you to play matching games with the terms and definitions as opposed to staring at a sheet with terms printed on one side and definitions printed on another. Explain what you have learned to someone else as opposed to rereading your textbook or your notes. Create problem sets or quiz questions for yourself to practice on as opposed to simply copying everything in your notebook. In short, do activities that keep you engaged.
Have you ever heard of the ‘The Forgetting Curve’ (see above)? If you learn something, by the next day you would already forget half of it. However, if you revisit the new concepts you have learned regularly in the first few days after learning them, you would have stored the new knowledge in your long-term memory, in which it becomes very hard for you to forget going forward. Therefore, aim to regularly go back to what you have learned when you are first introduced to the subject to make sure that it stays afresh in your mind.
Condensing your notes
As the school year goes by, our notes become thicker and thicker. It seems that there is always something new to remember, something new to jam into our brain, which is getting more and more crammed. To ensure that you can consume new information as effectively as before, you should constantly condense what you have learned before, so as to ‘make space’ for new information that is coming your way. Are there patterns in the problems you have done? If so, just remember one typical example of each category of problems–you have just saved space from not having to remember every single one of them. Is there information that has been given to you that will unlikely to be ever tested? If so, do not spend too much time studying the topic. Are there detailed facts too meticulous to be tested? If so, summarize the key points and focus on just remembering those. Keeping what you have to remember concise is key remembering things effectively.