Ask any college student (and yes, even us grad students) the most challenging things they face in college and it’s likely that studying is high on their list. It’s no wonder with all the distractions we have – Facebook, Twitter, TV, StumbleUpon, etc. It’s awful!
For four years, I have been perfecting my study technique, and here is what I have come up with:
1. Spend some time writing down everything you need to do. DON’T use technology for this: aka don’t use your Blackberry, iPhone, computer, etc. Write it on a post-it, on a notepad, whatever, but avoid technology as you could be tempted to be distracted.
I try to do this on a Thursday or Friday (as soon as I’m done with class for the week) so I can see not only what reading or homework I have for the weekend, but assignments or tests/quizzes coming up the next week or the week after so I can prepare. Write down shortened versions of homework, meetings, events, etc. in your planner so you will have an overview of what’s coming up.
Then, in another notebook, etc. write in detail what you need to do for each class.
2. Next, take 15 minutes to knock out the fastest tasks you can. Short e-mails, phone calls, small tasks. These don’t need to be the most important tasks on your list, just the ones that take the least amount of time.
3. When the 15 minutes are past, turn off your phone, close the windows on your computers (and turn of your internet if you don’t need it for your tasks) and work for a solid 35 minutes on the first of your first major tasks.
When the 35 minutes are up, take a short 10-minute break, and then start over again with 15 minutes of short tasks and 35 minutes of uninterrupted work.
For exams, write down in your notebook (not your planner) a detailed account of what chapters/topics will be covered on each exam. Then, divide up the material evenly for however many days until the exam (leaving the night before for a review of all the material).
As far as taking notes in class, I’m a firm believer in taking major notes on my laptop when classes require a lot of notetaking. This minimizes the risk of missing something important. I then make sure to print all my notes and review them at the end of the week so I will have a physcial copy. If I can though, I’ve found it’s best to take notes in a notebook because it reduces the risk of distractions due to internet browsing.
What are your study tips?