Being a student requires a lot of self-responsibility. Unlike in school, there isn’t a teacher who tells you exactly what to do. In university, you’re simply expected to prepare assigned readings, write essays, prepare presentations and study for the next exam. No one’s going to remind you of your next submission date—you need to learn how to organize yourself well. Self-study is the key to success. Therefore, I thought I’d share some tips for those of you who feel like getting a little help:
- Read all assigned texts actively. This means highlighting important passages (I recommend using maximum three different colours as otherwise it might get confusing), making short notes in the text and possibly longer ones on a different sheet of paper, writing down questions, and looking up unknown words or concepts (or if the text is in another language, looking up vocabularies). In addition, it’s helpful to make a mind-map or the like to structure your thoughts.
- Reminder: Do not leave anything for the last minute!
- Before the session starts, skim-read your notes to refresh your memory.
- Listen actively. Switch your phone off and put it in your bag so you don’t get tempted to check your messages during class.
- Make notes! Though studies find that people are more likely to remember things if they make notes by hand instead of typing, it’s up to you which method works best for you. Either way, don’t just copy your lecturer’s PowerPoint (especially if it’s uploaded anyway), but write down additional information, key concepts, explanations, anything that’ll help you revise the lesson later. Also highlight important keywords and write down questions you want to look up.
- Review and revise. Structure your notes, write short summaries, try to find links to topics discussed in previous sessions. It also helps to make your notes visually appealing: use colours or symbols, make headings, use a fresh piece of paper and write neatly if you write by hand. If you want to avoid last minute cramming, revise sessions every week or at least every other week.
- Also make sure to get rid of all distractions before you start studying.
- Re-read texts and try to summarize them again with the knowledge you’ve gained in the session.
- Make flash cards and quiz yourself on what you’ve learned.
And that’s about it. Needless to say, these are tips that have helped me along the way–in the end, it’s up to you to find what works best for you. So happy studying!
What are your top study tips? Let me know in the comment section below!