Does if feel like your life stops when exams start? If you feel this way, mature student Kate has shared some of her tips on efficient, focused study you might find helpful. Kate is in her third year of a BSc Philosophy and runs a research and consulting business. I think efficient might be her middle name.
Just reading stuff and writing down notes wasn’t working for me – it was an utterly dull way to learn, so I turned to storyboards and hey presto, study became more fun and my GPA increased.
Take your notes, probably 30-odd pages for a semester, and start organising and condensing them onto big A2 desk-sized pages according to key topic areas making giant cheat sheets. Organise your notes into a structure using bullet points and adding notes and leave out information you know. I use felt pens, sticky notes and draw pictures and diagrams to get new information to stick in my brain. Then hang your cheat sheet on the wall.
Breaks are really important while studying. After each A2 cheat sheet that you create, take a break. Set your alarm clock or meet a friend – I use my dog as an alarm clock to take a break and go for a walk at the beach. When you come back to do the next cheat sheet, review the previous one before getting started.
As the exam gets closer, aim to reduce your cheat sheet knowledge from an A2 to an A4 or smaller – the more you review the content the smaller and more concise your sheet should get. Rewriting a cheat sheet onto smaller sizes of paper as you grasp the ideas gives you confidence that you’re learning the material.
It’s a myth that you can study for 12 hours straight and digest all the information. If you’re a ‘C’s get degrees’ student, it’s fine, but if you want to actually learn and do well, I find two hour study sessions with breaks, spread over a week or two, is a better approach.
Extra tip: when you read new content, try to find real life examples of how it applies, it makes you more likely to remember it. Or attach the content to a real life memory, for example, if I’m learning about an engineering problem that is abstract, I think of ways it might be used in my life or I think of some wacky analogy – it helps when needing to remember lots of stuff.
Do you have a handy study tip? Share it with your classmates in the comments section below.