Tag Archives | studying

How To Foster A Study Conducive Environment

Image by Filipp Kozachuk, pexels.com

Image by Filipp Kozachuk, pexels.com

Self-study is just as important as the process of gaining knowledge and building concepts. It is very important that a certain input of knowledge is reinforced positively and the environment is conducive to promote retention of knowledge. Hard work needs to be strengthened by smart work which includes boosting your productivity by having the right setting to set your study mode on. The environment you work in will determine how successful your learning efforts will be, and how much will actually sink in. Controlling your study environment can help you identify where you’re lacking so you can fill in the loopholes deterring you from achieving maximum efficiency in your academic life.

Say ‘NO’ to mobile phones and technology!
What if I tell you to switch off the WiFi when studying? Sounds impossible, right? The pre-conceived notion we have regarding the crucial importance of internet proves to be quite a big distraction sometimes. Manage your screen time so you’re not led away by incessant notifications flooding your smartphone. Social media can be addictive and you need to forcibly withdraw yourself from this habit of being hooked onto hours and hours of Facebook scrolling, live streaming videos or texting. Before you realize, your precious time is lost.

Have a separate study room/corner to yourself
You can’t expect yourself to be able to concentrate in the middle of the living room with people around and your roommate watching their favorite show. Get some privacy to give your 100% to the subject matter at hand so you’re not distracted by background noises and annoying giggles from the next room. Even a designated study corner to cater to your study needs can help you focus. College life often makes this possible by having quiet study rooms and a library full of the most helpful resources.

Music is therapy
No one can deny the effects of music on your mood and the way it facilitates your thought processes. Music is a great way to rev up your spirits and put you in the mood to get you started. Some personalities may prefer silence but some others feel energized by the beat of the music and the rhythm it puts them in. Often people can better concentrate on their studies with earphones plugged in their ears, shutting them off from the rowdy outside world.

Keep yourself organized
You will be surprised at the psychological effect that a cluttered workspace or even a crowded desktop can have. Keeping your mind as well as your surrounding organized is a surefire way to enhance productivity. Your mind is programmed to work best when there are minimal visual distractions. Paperwork spread all over the place or important documents in a haphazard order can wreak havoc in your study area. Instead, keep track of your things in proper folders, and track expenses on excel sheets.

This article was contributed by guest author Rachael Everly.

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7 Study Hacks for Getting a Perfect Score on the Exam

Image from pexels.com

Image from pexels.com

If you have a big test coming up, there is a strong chance that you are pulling all-nighters, eating unhealthy study snacks, and feeling completely anxious. You may even be found running all across campus searching for study groups or cramming all of the information you learned in class into your head. Most likely you are overwhelmed with other assignments like homework and projects.

Taking a test always promotes anxiety in students. It is completely normal to feel the pressure during a time like this. You want to do well in order to progress to the career of your dreams. However, you do not have to be one of few that crumbles under the pressure. Here are 7 proven ways to get the perfect score on any exam. Are you ready? Here it goes:

1. Power Off
The biggest mistake many students make is keeping their electronic devices on while studying. This is highly ineffective. Every time your ringtone goes off or you receive a text message, you will be distracted. For this reason, it is important that you shut off all devices — and yes that means your phone, tablet, television, and laptop. Make sure to turn everything off so that you can get the concentration that is needed to study effectively. You may be tempted to check your social media feeds or watch a YouTube video after, however studies have shown that these stimuli only keep the brain awake, therefore leading to sleepy mornings. Tell your friends that you are studying. Any great messages, Facebook status updates, or Instagram pictures can wait for another time.

2. Eat Right
The days leading up to your exam could easily cause you to slip into bad ways. The stress of studying provokes emotional eating in some while it also serves as a distraction. If you find yourself practicing any of those habits, it is essential that you replace the donuts and pizza for water, fruits, and vegetables. By now you may be thinking “Ugh, who eats that?” but these foods actually do more than just gross you out. Water replenishes you and keeps your body hydrated. According to studies, this will not only cool you down, but will also promote excellent cognitive function and physical energy. In addition to this, fruits like apples and blueberries have been found to have toxin reducing agents that maintain your memory levels. So instead of grabbing that energy drink and extra cup of coffee, try good old fashioned fruits and veggies. They never disappoint.

3. Create Mental Associations
If you are studying a complex subject that includes large amounts of abbreviated terms, try breaking the letters down into acronyms. Connect the bridge between what you know and what you learn. Place fun catchy names on difficult phrases. If you find that an important term is not relatable, get creative and think of something. For example, if you are studying the word ‘blanco’ in Spanish, think of the color of a blank sheet of paper. This method is highly effective and wins every time. Try this for any and every subject.

4. Try Whiteboards
Everyone learns differently from others. While some individuals thrive in lecture class settings, others may do better academically in museums. There are numerous learning styles that allow each person to learn effectively. For those who are visual, whiteboards are an excellent tool to use. Instead of staring at textbooks filled with words, get an erasable marker and draw the words that you are studying. For example, if you are studying math, you may find it easier if you drew figures. If you are studying a complex piece of literature, try writing out the different names and terms that call for attention. You can even get creative and use different colored markers. This is excellent for those who think in pictures.

5. Laugh!
You might find this tip quite silly but it proves effective for the most stressed students. Sure we know that exams are serious and that your future is on the line. However, you should never allow tests to cause burn out. In fact, it is proven that laughter releases built-up tension. There are so many high emotions that revolve around midterms and finals. Consider how you can find balance in the midst of a stressful test period. Most of all, relax. You will do great.

Taking an exam does not have to have you stressed to the max. Consider studying the right way by powering off, nourishing your body the right way, creating mental associations with difficult terms, using whiteboards to boost memory, and do not forget to laugh. Before you pick up that donut, try these tried and true methods the next time you have an exam.

This article was contributed by guest author Sophia Clark.

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Efficient and Effective Studying – An Infographic

Studying is a fact of life for students, but for many it is a huge struggle and a constant battle. The key is to find a method that suits your style so that you can get the most from the time that you put into it.

Procrastination is the enemy for students and with so many distractions in the world today (namely smartphones and social media), it can be difficult to focus. However, focus is required in order to get the results required to fast-track you to a successful career. Good results from your studies will set you apart from the masses – so be mindful of their importance.

This infographic from Study Medicine Europe aims to give some helpful tips and hints on how to study effectively. All is not lost if time isn’t your friend!

Image by guest author Aris Grigoriou

This article was contributed by guest author Aris Grigoriou.

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Excel on Standardized Tests with These 5 Tips

Image by Alberto G, Flickr

Image by Alberto G, Flickr

Standardized testing plays a major role in every stage of education, and in some cases, standardized testing can make or break you. You need to score well on standardized tests to get into college and grad school, and after that, you need to score well on standardized tests to enter the workforce.  In many states, high stakes tests begin as early as the 5th grade, and they bring with them a lot of pressure. There are a few things that you can do before the big test to help calm your nerves before getting your brain focused on the task:

Repetition

There is a wealth of testing practice available that can help you prepare for any high stakes tests, including tutoring agencies, online practice tests, and personal tutors.  Utilizing one of these programs will get you the repetition and practice you need for the big day. Just like anything in life, practice makes perfect, and if you want to perfect that score, you need consistent practice.

Read

Reading to education is like weightlifting to football. The more you read, the stronger your brain becomes. High stakes standardized tests require complex thinking, and the brain needs to be exercised in order to carry out that task. Reading will give the brain the exercise it needs to think through challenging questions.

Pay Attention to Vocabulary

A strong vocabulary is crucial to passing high stakes test. Be it the need for domain specific vocabulary, jargon related to a field, or simply vocabulary to sound intelligent, you need to pay close attention to the words that those around you use.  One way to do this is to listen to the words used in pop culture or in the media.  News reports are chockfull of great words that act as grace notes — the exact right word.  Begin to ask yourself, “What connotation did the word carry to make it the right word?”  You will begin to see the nuances in language, and it will help you tremendously when it comes to taking those high stakes standardized tests.

Practice Reading Questions Carefully

One thing that many people struggle with when it comes to standardized tests is question reading.  Many people begin to read the question and then skim through the rest assuming they know what the question was asking.  If you catch yourself doing this, keep this in mind:  Test takers know you do this, so they write questions to catch people who do this.  Take your time, read the question fully, and then answer the question.  If you know you are a person who skims and then responds, practice reading test questions so that you can train your brain to slow down.

Pace Yourself

Do not spend too much time stressing over one question. Time is valuable when it comes to high stakes standardized tests, so if you have to move on, do so.  If you spend too much time stressing over one answer, you could run out of time and miss questions you could have easily answered.  Move on and come back.

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How to Focus in Summer School

Image by Francisco Osorio on Flickr

Image by Francisco Osorio on Flickr

School can be tiresome. Exams, essays, assignments – none of it is ideal. However, no one needs to tell you that learning is beneficial to your future. It makes you more knowledgeable, enriches your life and helps you find a job. So in those gorgeous summer months, how does one focus in summer school?

All you have to do is make learning entertaining – and yes, there are many ways to do it. You can even put your own twist on it. Here are just some of the ways to make education fun:

  • Choose courses you’re interested in. If you can, try to choose courses that intrigue you. Summer is one of the hardest times to focus. The more interesting you find a course, the easier it will be for you to absorb facts, remember information and complete projects and assignments with gusto.
  • Listen to music when you’re studying. Studying can be tedious, but listening to music can make it fun. You may wish to do this when you’re completing assignments and essays as well. Keep in mind this can be distracting for some people, so our advice is to try it out once and see what effect it has on you.
  • Make friends. Approach people who you think you might share common interests with. Knowing you’ll see your friends will motivate you to wake up early in the morning for class. You may also wish to study with them, as it can make the process a little less stressful.
  • Explore the campus. Use your time in between classes to browse the shops, restaurants and bars available to you on campus. Take advantage of the beautiful weather and go for walks on your study breaks to clear your head.
  • Start an after school hangout routine. Once a week, arrange a spot to meet with your friends. You can grab a coffee, read over notes, go over textbook questions or simply enjoy yourselves.

Summer school is not that hard when you try to make it entertaining. Remember to choose courses that interest you, listen to music while completing tasks, make friends in your classes, arrange a weekly hangout with your classmates and make light of what the campus has to offer. This may even motivate you to wake up early in the morning and attend every class. Summer school doesn’t have to be a bore – you just have to make the most of it.

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5 Things I’ve Learned Halfway Through University

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Photo by uniinnsbruck on Flickr

Reaching the halfway point of my university career has been a bit scary. Those two years flew by and soon enough the next two years will be done as well. I find it important to reflect on the things I’ve learned throughout my first two years both in and out of the classroom, and in regards to university as a whole. More importantly, I believe it is essential to highlight the skills I have learned in regards to studying, and how newcomers to university can learn from previous mistakes that I’ve made. Having finished my second year of university and reflecting back on my time of studies, there are many things I feel should be highlighted for new students.

  1. Start the semester strong – Being able to do really well on those early midterms and essays makes a difference. Rather than being pressured to ace your final exam or essay, do well on the earlier work to reduce the stress you’ll have later on.
  2. Find YOUR best way to study – Not everyone works well in study groups or at the library; I know I didn’t. Finding the manner in which you work the best and sticking to it will help you excel in school. By the end of first year it may already be a routine!
  3. Manage your time for other activities – Constant studying will exhaust you and it’s important to do other things while on campus – playing sports, joining clubs, seeing friends, attending parties. Make sure to leave time for fun and don’t constantly think about what’s due next week.
  4. Get enough sleep – Especially for those living on residence, getting the proper amount of sleep can be difficult sometimes. Ensuring you’re well rested for lectures and not being lazy about attendance is good habit to keep throughout your four years. Don’t get too immersed into the party life and staying out late on school nights; your studies should still come first.
  5. Take advantage of the resources on campus – Every university, no matter their size, is equipped to help students deal with the problems they’re having. And even if you’re not in a pickle and just looking to find a job or some information, your school will have the right people there to help you.

I hope these tips help you get through your first two years of university and avoid some of the mistakes that I made. University is a great time – be sure to enjoy your stay!

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Equal Attention Needed: Keys to Balancing Out Your Life While Earning Your Degree

Image by Victoria Nevland, Flickr

Image by Victoria Nevland, Flickr

Starting college is both an exciting and challenging experience. As a freshman, for the first time, you’ll be making all the decisions regarding your life. If you want, you could party all night without worrying about your parents’ reaction when you get home. You can eat anything you want and go anywhere you want. However, you will have the responsibility of attending class and setting aside time for studying. It can become difficult to maintain a balance between your studies and your desire to socialize and enjoy the best years of your life. Here are some tips to help you maintain that balance.

Create a Schedule

A strict schedule that you hold yourself to can mean the difference between your success and failure as a student. In addition to your class schedule, you have to manage your time in a responsible manner. For example, just because your classes may start in the afternoon does not mean you can party all night and sleep all morning. Make sure you get enough sleep and save the partying for non-school nights or the weekends. Furthermore, you should set aside at least 15 hours each week for studying.

Keep Extra Activities to a Minimum

You may be excited to join every club and organization on campus. However, you’ll want to be careful not to wear yourself thin. Until you get comfortable with your course-load and new environment, limit extracurricular activities to just a few.

Diet and Exercise

While it may not seem so, your diet and exercise habits will have a huge effect on your ability to do well in school. How well you diet and exercise in college will translate to your ability to deal with stress, concentrate, have energy, and keep a good mood.

Stay Connected with Home

The combination of sudden freedom, your hormones, your desire to experiment, and your course-load can make college a little hectic, so call home every now and then to gain perspective. Remember that there are people who love you and who have your best interests at heart. Don’t let the demands from your instructors and drama from those around you stress you out.

Online Degree Program

The traditional classroom education isn’t for everyone. You may benefit from the flexibility of an online degree program. Obtaining your degree online will give you the freedom to work at your own pace without the typical distractions and setbacks of a campus. Many schools offer online degrees you can earn. An example could be the online Masters of Science in Nursing program that the University of San Francisco offers.

In college, you will undoubtedly have to work hard. However, there is still room to have fun. You just need to find a manageable balance between work and play. Remember that college is just one step in your life that will soon be over. Maintain a balance, stay focused, and enjoy yourself!

This article was contributed by guest author Rachelle Wilber.

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5 Tips to Effective Studying

Image by Steven S., Flickr

Image by Steven S., Flickr

Exams can be intimidating. There is so much to remember, and tricky questions tend to get you second-guessing yourself. Let’s not forget the pressure to get a good grade. It can be difficult to know what to memorize and what to skim over, but it is possible to make the most of your study time and ace your exam.

To study effectively, all you need is a combination of time management skills and discipline. You don’t need to spend too much time studying in order to successfully retain information (wait, what? I’ll explain), and discipline helps you to ask your professor the right questions, study the right topics and avoid distractions.

Here’s what you need to remember:

  1. Don’t cram. When you cram, you leave yourself little time to look over notes and textbook pages. This makes it highly unlikely that you will cover all the content required. It also isn’t guaranteed that you will be able to remember all that you read. Give yourself at least one week to study, spreading out your studying every day for a few hours.
  2. Take notes, if needed. It can be hard to grasp certain ideas or facts while studying. You may wish to jot these down multiple times. Then, attempt to write down the ideas on your own without looking at the page.
  3. Create acronyms to remember concepts. If you’re trying to remember a list of items, create an acronym to help you remember it. Start with a phrase that is easy to remember, then turn it into an acronym – a series of letters composed of the first letter of each word in the saying. It may help to choose a saying that rhymes.
  4. Avoid distractions. As hard as it may seem, don’t text, go on Facebook or take phone calls while studying. These are unnecessary uses of your time, and you may spend more time doing these things than intended. You’ll be surprised how much time you can pick up by eliminating these distractions.
  5. Ask your professor for help. If you’re really struggling with the course, it may be useful to ask your professor what subjects will be on the exam. Sometimes they may even provide copies of previous exams. Ask your professor to guide you with concepts you’re having trouble understanding.

Renowned astronaut and physicist Sally Ride once said,

Studying whether there’s life on Mars or studying how the universe began, there’s something magical about pushing back the frontiers of knowledge.

Although studying may be tiresome, it helps you to learn. More importantly, it is 100% necessary in earning a college degree. Don’t give up on studying. It is absolutely possible to ace your exam using some helpful tricks.

The Infamous Exam Anxiety

Image by Walt Stoneburner, Flickr

Image by Walt Stoneburner, Flickr

You are either a regular or an occasional victim. Either way, that uncomfortable jittery feeling is not foreign to any one of us. I am by nature a quite nervous individual and exam time for me is, well…I’ll let you visualize that on your own. In brief, we can conclude that “cool, calm, and collected” are non-existent words in my dictionary come exam time.

With that being said, below are a few tips I would like to share. They are for fellow students who generally feel nervous no matter how much they’ve studied. Their anxiety does not depend upon how well-prepared they are for the exam; just the idea of an exam is enough to cause stress. I have become a champion of this feeling; all I need is to show up in the exam room and it’s as if a “nerves” switch has been turned on.

These tips have been life savers for me when managing my exam anxiety, and in my experience, have resulted in better grades. They have really given me a confidence boost, and a corresponding significant drop in my anxiety levels.

Talking to Myself

A method which I have found to be extremely useful is what I call the “talking to myself” method. We all know anxiety is a mental state, so this is what I tell myself to bring my thoughts back down to earth:

  • What is the point of feeling anxious? The only thing that it will cause is a bad grade. Is that my goal?
  • If I don’t take this exam, I’ll get a zero, and I won’t be able to get my grade back. Any mark is better than a zero.
  • I have studied the material and am ready for this exam and will receive a good grade as payoff for my time spent studying.

For those feeling nervous due to lack of studying (which shouldn’t happen!):

  • I don’t know how I’m going to do on this exam, but I have an hour (or several hours), and I’m only going to hurt my grade more if I feel anxious because I didn’t study enough. I should use this time to soak in all the content I can.
  • If I feel good about the exam, I will end up doing well on the exam.
  • This is just one exam, there is no need panic. If I don’t do well here, I will make sure to do well on my upcoming exams by studying more.

Practice, Practice, Practice

I cannot stress how important and beneficial it is to review and revise your study notes more than once. Every time I enter an exam after only reviewing study notes once, that unwanted friend of mine shows up right behind me: anxiety. He makes me feel like I don’t understand many (or any!) of the questions on the exam. Let’s just say those exams are never exactly what you would call “flawless” – and it shows in those marks.

I’ve found that whenever I make a proper routine of studying, with enough time to go over the material three times (even twice can be fine depending on your understanding of the material), I have managed to receive grades that I’m happy with.

Internalize the Content

I’ve been practicing this method recently. I wrote my exams with a lot of confidence due to the fact that not only did I memorize the material, I understood the concepts. This really helps with critical thinking questions. When you develop a concrete understanding of the content, you’re able to answer questions with knowledge – and knowledge means confidence.

Many students who attempt to merely memorize the material usually end up with bad grades because they miss something in their answers or do not answer the question properly because they didn’t understand it.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re studying. They have helped me with my anxiety – I hope they can help you with yours!

Taking Notes by Hand vs. with a Laptop

Image by Tulane Publications, Flickr

Image by Tulane Publications, Flickr

Many students can’t bear to head to class without their laptop in tow. Laptops have come so far – they’re fast and light, allow you to multitask (all lecture-related activities, of course), and your notes stay neat and organized. Not like your chicken-scratch writing that stops halfway through the lecture because your pen ran out of ink.

Hold on a second – there’s a lot to be said for taking notes by hand. You’ve heard before that it’s better for studying and digesting content. Let’s examine the differences between handwriting vs. typing.

Writing by Hand

  • Less distractions. There are no other open windows, no messaging icon bouncing to get your attention. You’re not tempted to open up games or Facebook or even that next class’s assignment that’s due in 20 minutes. You’re free to just focus on the lecture.
  • It takes thought. I don’t know about you, but my typing is way faster than my writing, and it’s almost mindless. A sentence runs through my head, and suddenly it’s on the screen. It’s not the same with writing by hand – you’re physically carving every letter into your paper, and that makes it stick (at least more so than typing it).
  • There’s no fluff. Since writing by hand is considerably slower than typing, you don’t have time to scribble out every word that escapes your fast-talking professor’s mouth. Yes, this is a good thing. You’re removing all the fluff and marking down the main points – which results in more brain activity since you need to understand the concepts before you can summarize them.

Typing with a Laptop

  • It’s faster and easier. Writing by hand can be stressful, and if you’re focused, typing out your notes can be much more relaxing. Your hands don’t usually cramp as fast and there’s less of a chance of you missing out on an important point. And if you did miss something, you can just slot it in later.
  • It’s organized. You don’t need to worry about figuring out what in the world that scribble was supposed to say, your bullet points are aligned, and everything is broken out into neat sections with a bold headline – maybe you’ve even thrown a table in there. It’s a beautiful thing! Even better is using the “Find” function when studying so you don’t have to waste time searching for that one time you used that one word in that one sentence.
  • Multitasking – if you’re disciplined. Stay signed out of any kind of social media – messaging, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Close your internet browser and only keep open the Word document you’re using to take notes. If your professor asks for an example, that’s the time to Google an answer to show you’re keen and paying attention! Multitasking should only be lecture-related, to enhance your understanding of the topics.

Every student has their own preference and study habits. Maybe you prefer to ingest as much information as possible right from the start with handwriting and really pulling out the core concepts from the lecture. Or maybe you prefer to type out as much as you can mindlessly and go back later to analyze the content and type out summaries when studying. My advice: test out both methods and see which works better for you!