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Sleeping with a book under your pillow, staying up all night, cramming material for hours straight: people may have different learning styles, but I’ve never heard of these methods effectively working for anyone. In preparation for upcoming finals, I’ve compiled a few studying tips that have worked for me.
- Study Early, Study Often
This mantra can also be applied to projects and assignment submissions. By breaking your tasks into manageable pieces, you can get motivated much more easily. Reviewing a chapter a day, as opposed to an entire book in one night, gives you more time to mull over the topics, and ask for help if needed.
- Office Hours
Are there a few concepts that aren’t quite making sense? Talk to your professor during his/her office hours. Professors are required to hold office hours (4 hours/week), when they are available to help students. If you aren’t free during his/her hours, speak with your professor about scheduling a time that works for you.
- Sticky Notes + Convenient Locations
Make it convenient and to study. Put formulas or definitions on sticky notes and place them throughout your living spaces (make sure to clear this with your roommate(s) if you’re placing notes in shared areas). Just a few notes can serve as simple, persistent review, and it can be helpful to form associations between your study material and note location. You can even pin virtual notes onto your desktop.
- Blocking Websites
Facebook, Twitter, Reddit: we love our social media sites, but when the time comes to get serious work done, many websites can be big distractions. When the temptation to check for notifications becomes too distracting, you might want to look into web browser add-ons that block certain websites or that give you a time allowance on certain sites. I use StayFocusd for Chrome and Leech Block for Firefox (yes, you’ll need them for all of your web browsers).
If I could only give one piece of advice for finals, it would be to use sleepyti.me. It is by far my favorite tool for being prepared and remaining alert throughout the day. If you’ve ever wondered why you can get copious amounts of sleep but still have trouble waking up in the morning, it’s probably because you’re waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle. People sleep in 90 minute cycles. The middle of each cycle is a period of deep sleep; so, waking up during this time will leave you feeling tired, regardless of how many hours you’ve slept. sleepyti.me calculates sleep cycles and determines the best times to wake up/go to sleep. You’d be surprised at how awake you can be after 3 hours of sleep (not that this should be done everyday).
Good luck studying!