With midterm season approaching, and dozens of tests in the coming weeks can leave students scrambling to prepare. How do you study? How do you know what to prioritize? Every test and every student studies differently, but these tips and tricks help me come midterm season, and I hope they do the same for you!
Go to class and pay attention.
The most important thing you can do to study is go to class and listen to the professor. Being engaged with the material and with the class will familiarize you with what is expected and help you understand the material that is presented the first time.
Re-write your notes.
This one is easiest to do as you start taking the class. A few days after every class, re-write your original notes in a different notebook. Your original notes might be taken quickly to keep up with the professor’s lecture, so re-writing your notes will allow you to organize them coherently, pull out and highlight the important information, and review the material you learned in class.
Read your notes aloud.
Reading your notes aloud helps you review the material, as you read it and listen to yourself reading them. This is basically the same as re-writing your notes, but many of my friends find it less time-consuming. I prefer to write my notes down, though.
Teach the subject to someone else.
If you can teach what you’ve learned to a friend or a classmate, then you review the material and have a better understanding of how to teach and what will be expected on the test.
Making flashcards for important information, key points, and vocabulary terms helps you review material, first as you re-write them, and second as you use the cards you’ve created.
You can get fun and creative with your flashcards! Make a memory game out of cards to match words and ideas, to make study time a little more interesting. Decorate your cards with small doodles of main ideas and key concepts so that when the topic comes up on a test you have an image in your mind and you’re ready to answer!
Color coding your notes, using highlighter, colored pens, and brightly colored post-it notes can help you remember the information you’re reviewing with better clarity, and it makes your notes look way less boring too.
Make a checklist.
I personally love checking things off from a list. I put a post-it note on my wall and put little check marks next to the things that I’ve finished. Taking items off my list gives me a sense of completion and helps me find motivation to finish off the rest of my tasks for the day!
Put on some classical music and eliminate distractions.
While this might not have any practical effect, putting on some serious music can get you in the mood to sit down and study. Putting away distractions, like silencing your cellphone and shutting down Netflix can clear up your mind to focus on what you’re studying.
Set a goal, and once you reach it take a break and reward yourself! My personal favorite thing is to study for an hour, then get myself a glass of milk and a cookie, and take a break for one YouTube video. It helps to rest my brain and balance out studying and entertainment.
Go for a walk.
Getting outside and surround yourself with a change of scenery. Go to a small park or a coffee shop. Even if you go to the grocery store, getting out and getting moving can help re-energize your brain and help you focus on your studying.
These study tips won’t help everyone for every class. Find something that works for you, and work out different iterations of your favorite strategy to help you learn and retain information.
Remember that your mental health is integral to doing your best and feeling your best, so look out for yourself and understand the best way you study and the right school-life balance for you.