Study in short bursts
Not everybody can study for long periods of time. Studying for a long time might become boring, reading might start to be a chore, distractions will start to appear everywhere, and there’s almost nothing you can do but succumb to the boredom. That’s where short term studying shines.
Just because you have three chapters to read by next Wednesday doesn’t mean that you have to read a chapter a day and then be done with it. Read for 10 or 20 minutes several times a day when you have the chance. Whether it be in the café when your drinking your mandatory java, or when waiting outside your class because the teacher hasn’t opened the door yet, it doesn’t matter just get that studying in; I’ve even seen people riding their bikes and reading textbooks (make sure you can ride with no hands for this one). Remember, every moment counts.
Stop the Rote and Robotic Remembrance!
Remembering is the lowest form of Knowledge in Bloom’s Taxonomy, a set of objectives for education and educators. To make sure you really understand something (and to make sure you beat the pants off of your fellow classmates) you should really focus on being able to infer, to create your own knowledge based on what you memorize, you should learn to understand, apply, analyze, and evaluate what you learn, and strive to create new knowledge based on what you know. Memorization might get you an A on the test, but you’re probably not really learning anything, at least not in a substantial and meaningful way.
Make studying less tedious
Reading the textbook chapters over and over isn’t all there is to studying, and although it is probably the most effective form, it is hardly the most entertaining studying habit. Flash cards, study groups, practice tests, anything that you can do to switch it up a little bit will get the juices flowing and will help you remember. There are some really great videos on video sites like YouTube and Vimeo that share things like science themed music videos, literary summaries in short play form, and there are even some full on lectures on YouTube. Remember, yours is not the only class on Women in Literature Across the Ages and there are other teachers out there who might explain things better than your teacher.
Another great way to make even reading your textbooks easier is to play some ambient music in the background, especially if you follow the above tip and are studying in a busy café when you have the chance. Some people can listen to any music and are still able to focus, but I find that classical music works the best for me.
If you get frustrated, come back to it
This is especially true for homework like essays and take home tests, but it can apply to the readings and other out of class assignments too. Nothing will ever get accomplished and you won’t learn what you want to learn if you get frustrated with what you’re doing. If you feel overwhelmed or you’re just plain sick of a particular assignment, set it down and walk away. This may seem counterproductive but I promise that nothing substantial will be learned if you’re angry, and you will probably do better if you come back to it with a calm mind.
Above all don’t overload yourself with studying. Sure you should apply yourself and do well ; but it won’t be worth it if you end up forgetting everything or if you get mediocre grades because you took too many classes or overloaded yourself with studying. Calm down.
Check out this article for more tips on studying and passing those tough classes.