It’s another semester in the forest! That means friends, pits sits, and… schoolwork. Don’t let the work pile up! Start the semester right with these ten easy back-to-school study tips.
Tip #1: Get organized
Organization is the key when you’re juggling academics and social obligations. Try putting together an organizational system that works for you. Maybe colorful post-its are your thing. Try assigning different post-its to categories, like “to-dos”, “assignments”, “important dates”, and “student events.” In love with your label maker? Go to town! The point is to make your organization about you. Coordinating a structure that is unique to you and your needs makes it easier to follow and as a result, nothing gets left until the last minute.
Tip #2: No distractions in your study space
Everyone has a unique space where they get the most work done. If your particular study space includes a TV or a radio, it’s probably not the best place for you to study. For some, the ZSR is a second home, but even it can be a social hotspot. Choose a place that doesn’t have a lot of tempting distractions.
Tip #3: Keep all of your books, notebooks, binders and folders for each class together
It’s much easier to remember to grab your specific materials for each day if they are all together. You’re less likely to forget something if they are all in one place, like a shelf. Still devoted to that label maker? You can even label spaces on the shelves to make it that much easier to find the right materials.
Tip #4: Reward yourself
There’s a reason it’s called “Work Forest.” You work hard, so treat yourself every now and then! Positive reinforcement is a magical thing. When you have completed a task, reward yourself in small ways. Allow yourself a ten minute study break to surf the net, check your email, or text a friend. This also helps you avoid procrastination.
Tip #5: Schedule appropriate amounts of time to complete each assignment
Once you determine the deadlines for each of your assignments, estimate how long it will take to finish each one. Then prioritize each task and set a clear schedule for completion that works for you.
Tip #6: Use a planner
It can be virtual or on paper, but it always helps to write things down! We are busy people and sometimes we forget things. Using a planner helps you access important information about assignments, deadlines, and schedules in one place. If you map everything out in a planner, it sets you up build your own personal study schedule.
Tip #7: Use abbreviations
Yes, we suggest abbreviations, but only in your own notes. Since you are the only one who will be reviewing your notes, you don’t always need to write long, grammatically correct sentences. Shortening your sentences enables you to take notes at a faster speed and reduces the risk of missing something. Just make sure you know what each of your abbreviations stand for!
Tip #8: Divide your long study sessions into blocks separated by quick breaks
Crunch time? It happens, but make sure you go about it the right way. Studies show that it’s difficult to focus on one task for more than 90 minutes. It is most effective to study in 30-45 minute blocks of time, allowing yourself quick 3-5 minute breaks in between each study block. Be sure to give your brain time to refocus and reenergize so that you’re really absorbing the information. And be careful! Don’t let these quick study breaks turn into opportunities for procrastination.
Tip #9: Create study guides
It may seem elementary, but study guides are an excellent study source. We often wait until the night before big tests to create study guides. Instead, try to start a new study guide at the beginning of each new testing unit and add a little each class. Then when it comes time to cram for your big test and quizzes, you’ll already have your study guides created. This saves you valuable time that you can now dedicate to studying.
Tip #10: Learn how to effectively communicate with your professors
Professors are a resource. They are there to help you by providing guidance and support, so use them! Most professors are more than happy to provide additional study materials and extra help if you’re struggling with an assignment or area of study. An extra bonus: communicating with your professor shows that you care about your academic performance. If they see that you are driven and motivated, your participation grade might increase, resulting in an overall better class grade. It’s a win-win situation!