It’s summer vacation at last! Plans for swimming, getting a nice tan, hanging out with friends, and applying for a summer job have been made. “I have all the free time in the world,” you told your friends on the last day of school. But in all reality, when you compare your summer schedule with your busy school schedule, there isn’t a difference except for the change of activities. This summer is going to fly by, and before you know it, you’ll be back in school. Here is a list of 10 study habits that you can use as tips to help you be prepared for when that time comes again. Because it will.
1. Minimize All Distractions
Picture this, you are sitting at your desk having a great time as you read chapter three in your physics text book. Everything is perfect until your phone vibrates and you feel compelled to answer. Once you turn back to your book, it’s instant memory delay. I lost my spot? What was I reading about again? Then more than likely you will start reading the paragraph before that you already read, become satisfied with your effort today, and call it quits. All this because of a text message? Yes Willis. Studying in a room by yourself without your phone is asking a lot, but in the long run, you are staying focused. Which means you are getting more out of the black print than the white spaces in between.
2. Have a Goal
It doesn’t matter how much time you spend studying, but how hard you study during the time allotted. Before studying, write down questions that you want to answer. If you already have a study guide, mark the questions that you don’t know. That way you can ensure that you will get them done if you are running on a time limit or have a short attention span. Review the ones you already know at the end to make sure they didn’t get pushed out to make room for the other answers!
3. Be Positive
Your attitude decides how you will study. Start studying with the mindset that you are going to accomplish something big, and envision that A+ on your test when you get it back. Since you start with the hard questions, don’t allow yourself to accept your frustration as being dumb and give up before you get to the questions you know. Realize that when you get frustrated, it only means that you are a step closer to finding out the answer. But don’t fall into the trap of repeating and repeating the information in the same form. As Albert Einstein said, “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.” If you don’t understand it being written out, say it out loud. If that doesn’t work, draw it or try to explain it to a friend. Take a break and come back to it, but don’t leave that chemical equation unbalanced.
4. Make the Material Your Own
You don’t have to study in any fashionable or normal way. However you decide to study, make sure you are having fun. In English, to remember words, I used to come up with a short video clip in my mind of someone doing the word and then make it funny. For example, to remember the word abhor (to hate), I would imagine myself unwrapping a present to find out it was a math book and then throwing it on the ground with an appropriate look of disgust on my face. That memory could always get me to smile. Adding humor always helps, unless you laugh out loud during the test. Don’t be that guy.
5. Start With What’s Hardest
That may sound like old news, but it can’t be said enough. Most often the hardest subject is the one we don’t like. Am I right? Therefore, we should want to do it first and get it over with. Doing it first while you are awake and have a full cup of patience will make it at least a bit more enjoyable than squinting at the text book with blood-shot eyes at midnight. Plus doing it first gives you the entire evening to work on it, no excuses for giving up.
6. Sticky Notes Save Time
Right now, as I speak, my desk and light switch are covered with sticky notes. They dominate my night stand, and there are a few on the wall above my keyboard. Did I mention that they are also on my laptop? I live a very busy life, yet I manage to stay organized using sticky notes. They are the solution to remembering that you have a test to study for in the first place. They work as cheap book marks that you can write on and are disposable. Plus their bright colors easily attract your attention so you don’t forget pg. 47 #1-20 (evens) in College Algebra!
7. Figure Out How You Learn
At the beginning of high school, I wasn’t a fan of math. I hated math because the information didn’t click with me the way the teacher taught it. When I learned that there were different ways other than just watching the problem being done, it completely flipped my performance in math around. But I had to learn how I learned best to do that. What I figured out is that I have to see and watch it being done, I have to do it myself, and then I have to teach it to someone else to fully grasp each lesson. Figure out what works best for you. It will save your pride and your grade!
8. Less is More
In English, I always wrote a book for my test essay questions. I was so knowledgeable about the play Hamlet, that I couldn’t possibly write just five sentences. Of course, I was always the last one to finish, and this would have continued if my English teacher didn’t have to anticipate grading my tests. So one day, as I wrote chapter four in the first question of my test, my teacher walked by my desk and placed a sticky note that said, “Brevity is the soul of wit,” with a smiley face. That is a quote from Hamlet, and it perfectly fit my writing dilemma, with some humor. From now on, whenever I start writing or taking notes, I remember that quote. Brief notes work best for memorization, DO NOT WRITE THE ENTIRE CHAPTER or EVERYTHING THE TEACHER SAID! Doesn’t work kid. If you do take notes during the lecture, which I encourage, put them in your own words. Just do it, your test score will explain why.
9. The Internet is Your Best Friend
My chemistry teacher was right when he told my class that, “today we have all the answers at our fingertips with the internet.” Kahn Academy has videos and activities that help teach math, science, history, and more. Grammar Monster speaks for itself. Sparknotes provides summaries of book chapters and characters. My favorite study tool to memorize notes is Quizlet; it lets you create your own study cards online or on your iPhone.
10. End on a good note
Know when enough is enough. Your brain can get fatigued and does need rest between studying. Studying intensely for 60 minutes is good enough. 90 minutes is the maximum you should go before taking a 10 minute study break. To conclude, before you call it a night, be satisfied with your effort. Accept that you have done everything you possibly could have done to get ready for this test, and there is nothing more that you can do. Close your textbook confident that you are ready and have given yourself the best chance that you could for tomorrow. With that being said, as soon as your head hits the pillow, abandon your deep thinking and let yourself get a good night’s sleep. You’ve earned it.
What would be your #11? Let me know in the comments below!
Featured photo credit: Image by Willsie Alleman via pinterest.com and english-study-motivation via tumblr.com