I thought I’d share some tips I’ve learned in college so far (in no particular order)
1) Understand the Ebbinghaus Curve of Forgetting. Basically, constantly revise your notes or else you’ll forget all of what you learned from the previous day/week/etc. Plus, it’ll be easier come midterms and finals season when you’ll have to review all the material anyway.
2) Don’t cram. The brain is not built to process a lot of information very quickly. All cramming does is make you overwhelmed and stress, and stress won’t do you any good. Going along with this, used space repetition, and keep revisiting your notes.
3) Use active recall. When reading from a textbook, don’t take notes. Once you finish a section of the chapter, close your book, and write down notes from memory. Then go back and fill in the gaps. Forcing your brain to think this way best consolidates memories.
4) Don’t overlearn. If you feel like you understand it well, you probably do. Don’t over-revise, that may sometimes make you more confused. This tip is best if you have an exam coming up soon and you’re worried about it. You’re going to do fine :D
5) Figure out your music situation soon. If you like listening to music in the background, listen to instrumental music, but not music you already know.
6) Take practice tests. I can’t stress this enough. Ask your professors for some. Google some. Do whatever you have to do, but definitely do them.
7) Study before sleeping. Sleep consolidates memories.
8) Do you have test anxiety? Write your concerns on an index card/post it note/loose leaf paper/etc! If you put your concerns on paper, it clears your mind so you can focus on the test. :D
9) Vary your study locations. Everyone needs a little change and sometimes this can make recall easier. For example, say on a quiz the question is, “What is Hofstadter’s Law?” You can link the information to a specific place, as in you studied that at a library as opposed to your usual studying spot, homeroom.
Speaking of Hofstadter’s Law…
10) Hofstadter’s Law states that things will always take longer than you expect them to. So, make a home-stretch schedule. For example, if you want to do homework from 12-3 thinking it’ll only take three hours, add an extra half hour to one hour. You’ll more than likely find something else to study. (but don’t forget to take breaks!)
11) Find out what study methods work best for you (flashcards, mind maps, concept maps, etc.) but don’t forget to vary them, and tailor them towards the subject(s) you are studying. Also, if something isn’t working for whatever reason, don’t be afraid to fix it, even if you think it’s too late. It’s better to realize something isn’t working and change that before you actually lose any points. This could be applied to note taking as well. :D
12) Don’t be afraid to use apps! There’s nothing wrong in utilizing sources. Rather, you should take advantage of all resources, that’s how to optimize your learning, whether that’s school related or general life related.
13) Go to Office Hours. I did an entire post on this. It will save your grade :D
14) Get a planner and organization system down the first week of classes. This will help you to not fall behind. Especially with research projects. (Post coming soon!)
15) Don’t constantly study. Take a break, go out, have a good time with loved ones. You’ve got your whole life to study :D