Studying for Amateurs

By Janessa Rutiaga
Blog Content Contributor

If you’re anything like me, then you had to learn how to study during your freshmen year of college. I grew up in a relatively small town, and even in AP classes, everything came easily. I managed to graduate in the top 10, and I did this without ever having to study.

When I entered Texas State as a freshman, I not only had to learn how to study but also had to learn all my course material. I was a fish out of water, floundering for any sort of help. It took me a while but I finally found effective study methods to help me focus and stay on track.

Do not study in bed.

This is horrible for your mind set. When in bed, your mind registers that it’s time to go to sleep, which is why you always feel sleepy, sluggish and unable to focus. Instead, devote a corner of your room, the kitchen table or your desk to studying. That way, every time you sit down there, your mind registers that it’s time to work and you don’t slack off.

I go back and forth between my desk and my kitchen counter. My kitchen has amazing lighting, but my desk makes me feel like I have to study. Find out what setting works best for you.

Listen to instrumental music.

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-12-09-54-pmI found that listening to my usual music was very distracting. I was constantly getting side tracked by the vocals and wanting to sing along that my mind was never on my notes. Instead, I started to listen to instrumental music.

I use Pandora (because it’s free) and just put it on the film scores track. Classical music was way too slow for me and made me want to go to sleep, but film scores have a completely different sound to them. They keep me emerged in my work, and it’s kind of dramatic.

Don’t type your notes.

I know it looks really nice and organized when you have your notes typed up and printed, but this does nothing for you. Don’t even take your laptop to class. Instead, get a good pen and a notebook to take notes. Your brain will remember and learn what you write, and reviewing your notes later will be much easier on you.

I tend to type up my notes after class because it gives me a chance to read through them one more time. Plus, I also get the neat and organized look.

Go to study groups.

A lot of classes will have TAs and SI sessions, and I urge you to take advantage of these. These study groups have saved me on more than one occasion. It can be really helpful to get together with other people in your class to go over the study material, and if it’s led by a TA or SI instructor, that’s even better.

If you don’t have one of these in your classes, there are always going to be willing students to study together. Make your own study group if you don’t have a mandated one, and get together once a week or the days leading up to a big test or project.

My first semester was a complete mess because I couldn’t figure out how to study properly, and now that I know how, my GPA looks a lot nicer. Try utilizing some of these tips, and watch at what they do for you. Happy studying!

Holly Henrichsen

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