so you’ve come here to read up on something. who knows why? maybe i just answered your question and you’re reading my BRILLIANT INSIGHT. maybe you’ve come to leave an angry comment about how my advice is ALL WRONG on a certain post (which you definitely should do. i mean, i’m wrong a lot. it would be cruel of you to let me bumble through the world without helping me out a little). maybe – and this is probably the reason – you’re just procrastinating.
whatever it was that brought you here, you’re here now, and i appreciate that. it makes me feel warm inside, having us this close. i like it when we’re close. shall we just cuddle a little? can i…oh my god, i’m so sorry. are you uncomfortable? did i…yeah, for sure. of course i can stop breathing on your neck. no, i’m not offended. don’t worry about it. i’ll just…shall i just step away? yeah. okay.
anyway. the reason i’m writing this is not because i think that you don’t know how to study, or that i know how to study better than you. it’s just that i sometimes do some unusual things in order to study, and maybe you’ll feel like trying one or two of those as you prepare for exams. try something new. whatever. it’s just a bit of fun, okay?
it’s not fun, is it? you’re bored already. whatever. i don’t need you. YOU’RE NOT MY REAL MOM.
so here we go. aska’s list of things she does to study:
1. firstly, how i study for an exam depends on what kind of course i’m taking. if the course is problem-based, like a math or chem course, my studying is based exclusively on doing problems. i redo problems in the textbook/reader, i redo problems on assignments, i redo my midterms, and i do practise exams/tests if they’re available.
i think a lot of people make the mistake of just trying to memorize formulas. that’s never worked in my experience, because just knowing the equation isn’t going to do you any good. if you do enough problems, you’ll learn the formula, believe me, AND you’ll also know what to do with it.
2. when it comes to courses that are knowledge- instead of problem-based – biology, history, political science, what have you – i have to go at it from a different angle. what i do – and this is the only way i’ve ever studied for these kinds of classes, ever since grade 9 – is type out my notes, colour-code them, and then memorize them, page by page. there are several benefits to this:
–> 1) writing out your notes forces you to read them word-for-word at least once. even if you’ve got your music in and seem to just be typing on autopilot, like i tend to do, you’re still reading them a little bit, and that helps you learn them, even if it doesn’t feel like it. trust me.
–> 2) colour-coding has the benefit of being fun (yes it is fun shut up ok i was an indoors kinda kid), which gives you a nice break from the monotony of typing out notes, and also it makes the notes wayyy easier to read when you’re actually studying them. what’s that? you want to hear what ALL MY COLOURS stand for??? well, if you insist (note: i’m a synesthete, so don’t challenge me on these colours ok?).
- Pink: numbers or dates
- Orange: proper nouns (like, historical figures or places)
- Blue: quotations (i’m an English student so i have a lot of stuff in blue)
- Yellow: general other important info
–> 3) memorization. now, this is the one that people may object to. “oh, memorizing is so shallow, it doesn’t let you REALLY UNDERSTAND.” look, you have to know the stuff to understand it, kay? once it’s all in your head, you can reflect on it and make brilliant extrapolations on the exam. but first, memorize. i don’t care what you think. i’ll stand by it.
that said, memorizing is hard as f*%#. what i like to do, whenever possible, is find an empty classroom with a blackboard during exam time, make sure no one’s using it, and then try to write out my notes from memory on the blackboard. if you can copy out your notes verbatim without looking at them, you’re doing great. also, writing on a blackboard is fun, so you won’t get too bored.
if you’re more of an aural person (or if there’s no blackboard available), i find that saying your notes aloud – ideally to another person who can correct you if need be – is also really helpful. at this point i should probably give a shout-out to my long-suffering sister for listening to me babble on about every subject under the sun for innumerable exams.
so those are my MO’s for how i study. then there’s all that extra stuff about being in the right frame of mind to study, etc. etc. like i said, this isn’t for everyone, but these are some of the things i do.
3. i always shower before studying. it just makes me feel refreshed, y’know?
4. i usually have music on in the background. if you can buy (definitely don’t download illegally no that would be very bad and wrong) an entire soundtrack for a movie, something that lasts a couple of hours, that’s the best, because you won’t get distracted by picking the next song every three minutes.
5. this one’s really subjective but: i never study around people. study groups? no. even if the people are really work-oriented. careful memorization and problem-solving just doesn’t work in a group. besides, you do your exams on your own, so study on your own.
6. working out before studying is good for clearing your head. it also makes you feel more inclined to study, because at least you’re not on that DAMN TREADMILL ANY MORE.
7. i usually study for exams in like six to ten hour blocks, so i find that a couple of twenty-minute naps within those keeps me from going crazy.
8. i almost always study right up until i have to go to bed. i find that sleeping on everything you’ve studied really helps cement it in your mind.
9. FINALLY, don’t let yourself get caught up in worrying about marks and how well you’ll do on the exam and stuff. that’s just a waste of nervous energy, and if you do badly, it’s never the end of the world. so do your heart a favour and don’t freak out, ’cause all that adrenaline isn’t good for ya.
so i hope that was at least mildly interesting/helpful. please let me know in comments how you study. i mean, i probably won’t follow your advice because i’m too grouchy and set in my ways, but it’ll be cool to hear! and you could help out each other! wow. doesn’t that sound great? (also you can tweet @askastudentUofT with your studying tips holla that might be cool).
xoxo and good luck studying,