Whether you’re studying for a placement test, the GRE, the GK, or just trying to ace your way through finals, here are five tips on how to study smarter, not harder.
1. Minimize useless distractions
Knowing how to be a successful student means knowing how to put things aside that decrease your ability to concentrate. Studying effectively requires being able to focus on what’s in front of you. Try setting your phone on ‘do not disturb,’ avoiding social media, and using headphones to listen to relaxing music while blocking out other noise.
2. Find a few different study locations
Changing study locations throughout the day can help you avoid burnout and keep your mind sharp. A mixture of indoor and outdoor spots can also help to break up any restless feelings. Check out on-campus locations like the computer lab, the library, or the outdoor patio areas. For a change in scenery, hit up coffee shops near campus like Pasion de Cielo or your go-to Starbucks location. Here are my favorite off-campus spots in Doral:
- Pasion del Cielo Coffee, 8550 NW 53rd St
- Starbucks, 10690 NW 19th St
- Doral Central Park, 3000 NW 87th Ave
3. Organize your notes
Reading the material before meeting for class gives you the opportunity to write notes and ask questions while in class. Bring your notes to class and augment any areas you may have missed that the instructor highlights or spends lots of time on. Date all of your notes and make sure you group them in a logical way. Ensure you include all of the questions gathered while reading, studying, or attending class so that you can easily follow up on them. Instead of keeping one bulky binder or a backpack of loose paper, organize your notes and handouts into separate folders. This makes it easier to find what you need for each exam, keep your homework together, and prevent overwhelming clutter. Color-coding can also help you keep different topics separate.
4. Seek help right away
The longer you wait to ask questions or get help when you need it, the harder it becomes to keep up in your classes. Don’t let frustration, anger, or fear of failure stop you from getting help. Seek out your instructor and ask for some one-on-one time. If they can’t fit you into their schedule, don’t shy away from contacting our on-campus tutors, who can also help you with a variety of subjects ranging from math to APA and MLA writing styles to research methodology. Study groups can really help you with difficult topics and course material as well. Remember the old saying: “Two heads are better than one; three heads are better than two…”
5. Don’t overdo it
If studying always feels hard to you, then you probably need to change your approach. Many students study too much. It’s better to stop as soon as you feel like you have a reasonable handle on the material. If you feel like you’re putting in a lot of time and not getting anywhere, it‘s a sign you need help. The more you try to push on by yourself, the less chance you’ll have of grasping what you’re trying to learn.
Finals week can be a stressful time for all students–I know it is for me. Knowing how to properly study for finals is the key to avoiding stress and acing every single one of your exams. Good luck!