Honestly I violate just about all the normal “study” tips that I have seen on the internet. Just because the following tips work for me—it doesn’t always work for everyone. Also keep in mind that I also go to a state school in Arkansas and while I have a bunch of amazing professors that have their Doctorate degrees and really push me to be a better person—this is a public university! Here are the study tips that I usually use:
Learn the layout of the class
Really take a look at the syllabus. That is basically your class bible. Write everything down in a planner from all of your syllabi and see how your semester will look. Remember which weeks will be your busiest so you can plan accordingly! Make sure you always take the time weekly to look at your schedule again—you need to make sure that you always know what’s happening weekly.
Get to know your professors
Each professor has their own quirks and ticks. It’s important that you get to know them. RateMyProfessors can help you with this—but paying attention to your teacher and the tests your teachers give always helps too! Study hard for the first test but take the first test as a way to get to know your professor. Are they extremely knit-picky or kind of general? Do they care more about vocabulary words or more about application of terms? These are some questions that will help you adequately prepare for the next test.
If they make comments, read them
If your professor has taken the time to pen out comments on anything you got back—read it! Those can be very important to understanding how you can be a better student in the class and how you can improve your performance later on.
Treat class like an extension of studying
Take ample notes, show up to class in a state where you can pay attention (well-rested, not drunk, y’know normal stuff), and sit near the front of the class. Even if you get mildly distracted in the front row—you will learn a lot more by being there than being mildly distracted in the back row.
Build friendships with classmates
Even if you hardly ever really use them—it’s good to have a friend or two in the class you could text or email about something going on. Always have that person because you never know when they might get a concept ten times better than you.
Read or skim the chapters
Reading the book is very important (although there are some classes where I might skip reading the book quite often.) Make sure you are reading or at least skimming the books for main concepts. This also goes back to knowing your professor—if your professor requires a large amount of book reading and the tests use a lot of questions from the book you’d be a fool to not at least skim the book or read it completely.
Don’t feel like you have to write everything down
In class it’s easy to write everything the professor says on the PowerPoint and sometimes that’s a good thing—but most times it’s nice to think for yourself. Try to summarize the main points of the PowerPoint and trim the fat. Sometimes it’s nice to have notes you can truly understand than a bunch of mumbo jumbo the professor has stated that you don’t understand. Always define terms and write down years if they are given in the PowerPoint—but summarizing is the key. Summarizing in class also helps you study later.
Know when it’s time to stop studying
I hardly ever study right before a test—because for me it’s useless. If I don’t know it by now, studying a few minutes before usually won’t help me. Sometimes it does and I admit I have broken this rule a couple of times on a particularly stressful test—but not usually on most test. I like to give my brain sometime to rest right before the test so I don’t overload it.
Sometimes it’s easy to rush through exams, but pace yourself. Read a question two or three times if you need to—break it down—come back to it later and see if the question might be alluded to in other parts of the test. Make sure you take time and focus on your test—not when everyone is getting done with the test. If it takes you nearly all the class period to get a test done—fine that’s why you have the whole class period. If you get done first, don’t distract, but don’t feel bad that you got done first either.
Because you are, and study smarter, not harder. As I have said before these work for me. People may look at me and say I’m kind of lazy and some semesters I like my final grades more than other semesters and that’s okay. You may not want to take my whole approach—but maybe one or two things. As I have said this doesn’t work for everyone!