So there’s tons of articles out there telling you the right way to study. But what about the wrong way? What are some things you might be doing that are keeping you from the most productive studying session? We’ve got 10 studying don’ts to make sure you get the most out of your studying dos.
1. Don’t save it till the last minute.
If you’re not one for a long, sit-down study sesh, try studying for an hour or two each day a week leading up to the test, so by the night before, you’re simply reviewing. Saving studying till the last day (or night) can lead to stress, lack of sleep and motivation and some unsatisfying grades.
2. Don’t be cluttered with distractions.
It’s certainly no requirement to hide your cell phone while studying or to deactivate your Facebook page, but all this social media can be a major distraction. Look at your phone only every hour, keep it in your backpack, or leave it in your dorm while you study in the common room. Close all of your Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts. Unless you’re contacting someone with questions, leaving all of your personal profiles open is just a recipe for procrastination. If you must, reward yourself every hour with a peak at Instagram, and then get back to studying!
3. Don’t avoid sleep
Your brain better retains information studied the night before after a good night’s sleep. It’s science. So when in doubt, get to bed. Cramming and pulling an all-nighter may sometimes be your only choice, but if not, give your brain a rest and catch some Zs.
4. Don’t underestimate the time to you should set aside to study – Overestimate – always.
Chances are, if you tell yourself you’ll only need two hours to study, you’ll actually need four. This happens time and time again – I’ve been there! Always give yourself more time than you need…and then some!
5. Don’t underestimate all the materials you’ll need.
I’ve left my dorm to go study before with just my notebook – didn’t bring my laptop, or my book, or the knowledge that all of the class notes were online. Don’t do this! It certainly was a mindless mistake on my part, but you’d be surprised at how “prepared” you might think you are when you’ve only got half the materials you really need.
6. Don’t only cram in studying in between all of your other plans/classes/breaks/practices, etc.
Studying and retaining information takes time. If you’re studying in a rush, it’s less likely you’ll remember the information later on. It’s certainly a smart idea to take advantage of those one hour breaks to review information, but don’t rely on that time to get all of your studying in.
7. Don’t look at something once and move on.
Say (or study) something a few times in a row. Say it out loud, think about it, say it again, and come back to it 5 minutes later. The more you think about and say things out loud, the more likely you’ll remember and recognize them. A good trick: remember your study facts with an acronym or a song. It’s fun, catchy, and more permanent that just memorizing.
8. Don’t study/memorize the material without understanding it.
I was journalism major in college taking Introduction to Kinesiology. The first few weeks of the class… Not so hot, to say the least. But once I really began focusing on the material, looking up the terms, asking questions, and understanding the material in my own way, it was 10 times easier to remember – because I actually knew what it all meant! You won’t be fully prepared for a test if you don’t understand the material.
Understanding the material will also be your savoir when it comes to the dreaded short answer questions! As college students, we only have so many BS-ing abilities. But when you do in fact know what you’re talking about, short answer exams are a breeze.
9. (When studying with someone else or a group) Don’t move on if you still don’t get it.
Everyone learns differently, and chances are, when you’re studying in a group, there will be those few people who understand everything like clockwork (and they tend to lead the study session). If you don’t get something, don’t let them move on. Back track, ask them to explain again, give an example or walk you through it. It’s just more review for them and less being lost for you.
10. Don’t be scared to go to office hours.
Professors should help you in every aspect of their class, including studying. Give your professor a heads up if you’d like help studying, or see if they can set aside extra time for you. Your school may also have free student tutors available for particular majors or classes who you can schedule time with!
Buckle down right from the get-go in college and you’ll find you establish regular, healthy studying habits fast! Organize your agenda, get your materials, stay on top of things and whatever you do, avoid the studying don’ts!
Featured image source: write-read-study.tumblr.com
Alexandra Smith is majoring in Psychology, with a minor in Creative Writing. In her free time, she enjoys running, hanging out with family friends, and roaming the world with her camera in hand.