Studying: It Doesn’t Need to Hurt
This scene is all too familiar to most students: you’re hunched over your desk, spine curved in an arc that is probably not very healthy. Your eyes are swimming with words that you can read, but not process. Hands stained with ink and smudged with graphite, brain buzzing with caffeine and stress. For a lot of students, studying is a battle that never seems to end or get any easier. It doesn’t have to be this way! There are small things you can implement in your study schedule that can ease the pressure put on you by studying.
Tip Number 1: Take breaks
This may seem obvious, but taking five-minute breaks every thirty to forty-five minutes can keep you from burning out. Use these breaks to read a book, take a super-short power nap, or grab a small snack. Avoid using social media or starting an episode of your favorite show, as these things can be hard to stop doing when it’s time to start studying again.
Tip Number 2: Multiple Notebook System
One way to keep your notes more organized and easier to read is to organize your notes into notebooks for different classes. At first glance, this may seem like a lot of notebooks to carry around, but there is an easy way to amend this problem: leave all those notebooks at home and keep a different one altogether to school. This notebook can be used for all of your notes and they can be as messy as you want. When you get home, you should transcribe those notes into the individual notebooks so that they’re better organized and neater. Another way to do this is to take your notes on the computer, print them out and organize them into binders by class. That way you don’t take the extra time of rewriting your notes. However, the process of physically rewriting your notes does help you recall the information on them. Whatever method you choose, this can help you keep everything more organized.
Tip Number 3: Decorate Your Notes
This tip especially helps if you’re a creative or artistic person. By taking a little extra care of making your notes look nice, you’ll probably enjoy taking and studying them more. This works well with the multiple notebook system so that you don’t need to focus on making them look nice when you’re in class. Just make sure you’re not focusing on decorating them too much, or else the content of your notes can suffer. You can find examples of ways to decorate your notes online.
Tip Number 4: Find a Study Buddy
This is a good way to keep yourself accountable for your studying and homework. If you and another person, or maybe even a group of people get together to study with, you’re more likely to do it. If you have people checking in on your progress, you probably don’t want to let them down by procrastinating or skipping out on your work.
Tip Number 5: Find Your Learning Type
There are three types that describe how a person learns best - auditory, visual, and kinetic. If you’re an auditory learner, you learn best by listening to someone explain a concept. If you’re a visual learner, you learn best by seeing what you need to learn through graphics and videos. If you’re a kinetic learner, you learn best by doing something and practicing what you learn. By understanding what type, or types, you fall under, it can help you determine how you should study. Auditory learners might study by recording lectures (with the teacher’s permission) and listening back to them, listening to audio-books, reading their notes or assigned reading out loud, or finding recorded lectures online. Visual learners might study by drawing graphics such as mind maps or charts, watching educational videos, or drawing out what they need to learn. Kinetic learners might try to teach what they need to learn to someone else, label a diagram, or create their own powerpoints or lectures. One person may fall under multiple categories, and learning works differently for each person. To find out where to start, you can take an online quiz that determines which learning method works best for you.
Tip Number 6: Become the Teacher
Though this is classified as a kinetic learning activity above, it can be effective for almost anyone. After going over a concept in school, it helps to explain it to someone else, as it makes you more confident in your grasp of the information. There are many different ways to do this. When your parents ask you what you did in school that day, don’t just shrug it off, go into detail! Tell your friends about something interesting you learned in your favorite class. Helping your younger siblings (if you have them) with their homework can give you a practical and real-life way of applying your education. If you don’t have anyone to listen, give a lecture to stuffed animals, or even an imaginary classroom! Once you’ve taught someone about the things you’ve learned, you’ll probably come out of it understanding more.
Tip Number 7: Battle Maps
The name may sound extreme but the method isn’t. The second your teacher announces a quiz or a test, write down the day it will be given. Then, when you have the time, form a day to day plan for how you will study. Each day can be the same, or totally different. Maybe you’ll break the information up into chunks, studying a different one every day. An example of a battle plan might look like this:
Test Day: Four days from now
Test content: Chapters 1-3 of The Grapes of Wrath + Vocabulary
This method of studying will help keep you organized and helps you study the exact content you need for the quiz or test.
Just by implementing a few of these strategies into your study routine, you can make your academic life much easier and less stressful. Just make sure that in the process of getting the best grades you can that you’re taking time to take care of yourself. Eat healthy, get some exercise and fresh air, and make sure you’re keeping up with the state of your mental health. Studying isn’t all books and flashcards, it’s making sure that you’re at your best so that you can do your best. Not all of these strategies may work for you and that’s ok. Just trying them out can help you find what helps you learn and may even get you some higher test scores. Good luck and happy learning!