I know that university can get pretty intense at times, and if you want to be successful in uni, then you gotta put in the effort. Unfortunately for me, I’m somewhat lazy. If I think I can get away without reading something, you can rest assured that I definitely won’t be doing any reading. I need to have a small bit of a social life too. Despite those things, I still get in the B+ or A- range. Lesson? You can do well in uni without reading yourself to death or suffocating your social life!
Now, I am not going to sit here and say that in the following post you shall find a gold mine of awesomeness and that every single thing I list will turn you into an Academic Batman. Although, that would be pretty cool to be Batman. But you know, without the losing-your-parents-at-a-young-age part. Or maybe I should say that this won’t turn you into Gandalf. Seriously, that guy can survive anything. Even when it looks like he won’t survive something–he somehow levels up to Gandalf the White! Anyways! Everyone is different, therefore some tips might work for you, some tips might not work for you.
I may not be Gandalf, but in two years of uni I’ve found out that there are six areas that have been important in my success at uni. These six areas are: attending class regularly, writing good notes, learning to read my Profs (mentioned in previous post), figuring out how I best study/how my brain works, mandatory reading vs. bullshit reading (what I really should be reading vs. what I don’t have to read), and how to manage my time best (so that I have time to socialize, or go on an unexpected journey).
1) Write/type out outlines-I’m not sure how people can just go through their binders and study. I honestly get bored doing that so I re-write and compress everything in my binders into a super concentrated outline. This forces me to deal with/think about the contents of the class. Therefore it’s WAY easier to study and actually remember stuff.
2) Sensory Code information-basically, relate new information to things you have experienced (OR to old information you know without a doubt). This works GREAT. ie/ I’ve related a chemical reaction to the visual of watching a Newton’s Cradle in action, and it really helped me remember what the electrons were doing/where they were going. You could also relate stuff to dancing:
3) Don’t study for long periods of time-HALLELUJAH! SCIENCE HAS SAID WE SHOULDN’T STUDY FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME!! Actually, I don’t know if Science has said this, but in a time management lecture I attended, they actually said that studying for like 4 hours straight was a bad idea because you’re only likely to remember what you started studying with and what you ended your study period on. They recommended breaking up study periods so that they only lasted approximately 1 hour. So instead of one 4 hr study period, have four 1 hr study periods.
4) Keep outlines updated!-I prefer to update my outlines as often as I can. What I mean is I catch up on my outlines twice in one week for my hard core classes (ie/ All my Chemistry classes) but for my easier classes (ie/ Psychology, education classes, Art History, Environment, etc) I only update them one or twice a month (if I’m really motivated. I told you I was lazy). I can see that this won’t work for everyone, because it does consume a fair bit of time, however updating your outlines as much as possible will help you in the long run because you won’t be cramming as much right before midterms or finals. Additionally, the time management lecture I attended said it helps you to remember the class material if you do SOMETHING (ie/ write outlines) with the material covered in a lecture in the 24 hours after the lecture. I’ve tested this out, and it actually has helped me remember class content.
5) Love what you are learning-I know you’re thinking: WHAT? GIVEN THE AMOUNT OF HOMEWORK, STRESS AND TEARS THIS CLASS CAUSED ME, HOW COULD I POSSIBLY DO THIS?? I hear ya. Sometimes it’s challenging because you really couldn’t give a flying crap about what you’re learning. Especially in classes you are taking to fill out some random requirement. This ties into #2 try and relate what you’re learning to stuff you already know. Just try to make what you’re learning seem interesting. This can be done by connecting what you’re learning to real life. Also, you can find more delicious ways to study:
6) Find out how you study best– obviously this is different for everyone. Some people like to listen to music while they study, some people like to study in groups, some people absorb information by resting their head on top of the textbook and going to sleep. I’m really jealous of that last group of people. I, personally, either like to pace and talk out loud to myself or sit quietly and read my outline. When I’m studying a concept I keep on asking myself “why?” until I’ve broken the concept down into the simplest reasons for why things work the way they do. Whatever stimulates DEEP, MEANINGFUL learning–do that. WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T MEMORIZE STUFF. For me, that works for short term problems, like I have a test tomorrow. However, the day after the test I wouldn’t be able to tell you the first thing on my outline.
7) For finals, review old tests-Skimming over your midterms and quizzes is a good idea because it gives you a rough idea on what is pretty darn important. The same questions won’t be tested, but the same concepts will be tested. Additionally, Google “site:edu [subject] exam” and you will find exams on the same topics. BOOYA! Tons of practice exams right there. There’s probably going to be a good few questions that don’t apply to what you learned, but there might also be some pretty good questions on stuff you did learn.
8) Think positively! –Terrified of the midterm/final you’re going to be walking into in ten minutes? No, of course you’re not. You know why? Because you’re Gandalf. You are awesome, and you will own this. You’re gunna walk your self into that room, write that test, and walk out like a boss (or like Gandalf)! And you know what? Life is going to be freaken awesome because you’re going to ace that test! That is honestly how I think before I go into any test. I think I learned this from my first Psychology class, and it’s actually something that athletes supposedly do before a game that they’re stress out about. Just envision yourself doing well! I believe that a boost in confidence is helpful, just because it doesn’t allow me to panic and forget about everything I studied. It helps me to keep my head clear so that I can think straight.
9) Coloured pens– I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about this in a previous post, but coloured pens are really worth buying. Just write key words in a wild colour. OR you could do what I do (in addition to writing key words in a bright colour) and basically colour code your notes. I think I had red/pink = YOU WILL DIE IF YOU DON’T KNOW THIS. Blue/orange = YO, THIS IS WHAT EXPLAINS THIS CRAP. Pencil = THIS IS AN EXAMPLE AND IT’S GUNNA SAVE YOUR BACON.
10) SLEEP!-Pssh, like I need to remind fellow uni students to sleep. That’s pretty much what we do best. I mean seriously, I should list sleeping under my “Skills” section on my resume.
I think that is pretty much it. If not, I’ll add more to this at a later point in time. Anyways, these are the essentials that keep me from yelling/writing down “BECAUSE I’M CLEVER” when I’m doing a test and the question asks me to explain a concept.
If you are interested in other links…
Resources for other people’s study tips!:
Time Management and Organization tips!: