Guess who’s done with her junior year of university and will probably definitely be spending the next three months in ratty pajamas eating Nutella out of the jar and binging Love Island? OH YEAH, BABY, IT’S ME. I can’t believe it’s come to this. Nine months of late nights on my uncomfortable desk, more breakdowns than I can count, and unlimited cups of coffee (although lets be real, I would have drank them regardless)…all leading to a pretty great GPA, if I say so myself. Can I get a heck yeah?
I wanted to spread some of my wisdom around on how I achieved that, because believe it or not, I haven’t always been a great learner. I was always more of a doer than a thinker, but this past semester, I’ve really had to discipline myself and get my grades up at any chance of a future that doesn’t involve relying on my parents for the rest of my life. So somehow, I managed to get it together and the results were quite favorable! Here are my top tips on how to study and get As in your classes:
- Get into the right mindset. And no, that does not mean watching all the Harry Potter scenes where Hermione is studying to give you “#inspo”. You need to write down exactly why you’re doing this. A good job? A better life? More knowledge on a subject you love? What’s pushing you? Why are you spending so much money and time on this? There has to be a reason why you are where you are. Figure out what it is and let it drive you.
- Gather all your supplies. When I was younger and I used to buy pretty stationary to use whilst studying, my mom always used to tell me that it was a waste of time, and I should be more focused on the actual content rather than making it look nice. But what she didn’t realize was that using colors and pretty glitter pens that smelt like fruit actually got me in the mood to study. What I’m trying to say is: you do you. Get the craziest patterned notebooks, or pastel markers, or whatever floats your boat. Personally, I like to have blank paper, flashcards, different colored highlighters and pens, and a binder with clear pockets to organize everything in.
- Read and highlight. Whatever resource your instructor has given you, read it all and highlight the important bits. At this stage, you just need to be able to distinguish the important information from the airy-fairy bits. Don’t worry about learning or memorizing anything. Just take it all in.
- Write the important information you’ve highlighted in an organized way. This step is crucial, because the stuff you write down is the stuff you’re going to learn. Don’t go crazy and copy the entire textbook, but also check, then double-check, that you haven’t left anything important out. If you’ve taken notes in class, incorporate them into your writing, too. Essentially all you’re doing here is making notes. Make sure you paraphrase what the textbook says, because you want to make sure you’re not just passively reading and writing, but rather actually understanding the material.
- Concise the information further and transfer it onto flashcards. I love me a good ol’ deck of flashcards. There’s just something satisfying about the way they all align and make you look oh-so-studious. Luckily, not only do they look très chic, but they also allow you to have your information handy at pretty much all times. Of course, this step isn’t necessary, and if you’re happy with your A4-sized notes you can stick to them, but I’ve found carrying flashcards around is really convenient. Sometimes, I’ll be out with friends, or having dinner with the family, and whip my cards out to review some terms for a couple minutes. After that, I just slip them back into my bag and pretend like nothing ever happened. Except – hey! I now know what year the Ottoman Empire fell! So the verdict is: yes to the flashcards.
- Use practice tests. Ask your instructor for some, or find some online. If nothing is available, make your own. This would be best done between stages 4 and 5; just pop open a word document, write a few questions down, and forget about them until this step. All this does is make you feel better about knowing the information, and allows you to realize if you have any gaps in your knowledge.
- Organize all your stuff in a binder. Personally, I LOVE keeping everything neat and tidy, so that means I store everything from my revision sessions, especially if I’m going to be tested on it more than once. I like to keep a copy of the chapter, the notes I wrote, as well as the flashcards all in one place, just in case I need to revisit it. You can do that, or you just throw everything out after your exam. Do what feels right, boo.
Some bonus tips would be to always have a water bottle around so you’re hydrated (I use a 1000ml one), light a candle to get the atmosphere like mine from H&M Home, and a pet to motivate you whenever you feel like you’re about to give up.
That’s it from me! Go forth and test, my friends. Of course, I’m only just learning the ways of the smart student, so if you guys have any tips, let me know below?