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Studying Tips

It's around midterms for many colleges (and even if it's not, you're going to have exams all of the time depending on your course load) and studying for multiple exams at once can be tricky. Heck, studying for one exam can be tricky. If you're unsure of how to go about studying for an exam, here are a few tips and tricks to spark your motivation and make studying slightly more bearable (slightly).

1. Utilize your study guides. If you professor is nice enough to give you a study guide, USE IT. Like really use it. Go through and write down notes corresponding to each point. If they are vocabulary words, define them in simple terms. If it's a more in depth question, either answer it in the margin or type it in on a word document. Seriously, if they're nice enough to give you a study guide, be nice back and use what they give you. Generally, they're not going to give you a useless sheet of paper just for fun.

2. Rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. This could be rewriting terms on a study guide or making you own study guide of sorts. Rewrite your notes if you have to. It's proven that writing helps you retain information and clarify your thoughts. If there's a few concepts that you keep confusing, write them out a few times until you can commit them to memory. Write out flashcards or even little essays compiling your information.

3. If you're not sure about something, ask questions. If you're in class and you really don't understand something, raise your hand and ask a question. If that makes you nervous, step to the side with your professor after class and talk in private. Or, if you're going through the study guide or your notes before an exam and you don't understand a concept, write them an e-mail! They'll normally get back to you fairly fast and they appreciate e-mails more than you'd think.

4. Review homework. Your past assignments are an extension of your notes and reading combined in one place. Not all professors hand back your assignments before exams, but if you're lucky enough to have your homework to study off of, utilize it. Just be sure that your answers are correct before you commit them to memory!

4b. But first, do your homework. Not to get too preachy here, but you're doing yourself a great disservice by not doing the homework in the first place. You're missing the opportunity for points and an opportunity to get comfortable with the material for the exams. Suck it up and do the homework so it doesn't bite you in the bum when it comes time for grades, both for the assignments themselves and the exams.

5. Quiz yourself from memory. Go through the main concepts in your head. Write down what you can remember about it and check it with your notes. Seeing what you already know well can help narrow down what you do and do not need to study, saving you some time in the long run. If you know that you know all of the vocabulary, spend more time on grammar. If you know that you know the body systems and their functions, but don't know what each muscle does, spend more time on muscles.

6. Find your comfort zone. If you're not comfortable studying in a library, go to a coffee shop or even find solace in your own bedroom. Conversely, if you can't focus at home or in your dorm, try studying in your college's library, a local library, or even a bookstore like Barnes & Noble. If you aren't comfortable where you study, it's going to make the process seem forced and you're not going to want to be there for very long.

Tip: If your school has multiple libraries, test out different ones. My school has a regular library and a law library and a lot of undergrad students prefer studying in our law library because it's ridiculously quiet and easier to stay focused.

7. Know your limits. If you know that you don't retain anything after, say, an hour of nonstop studying, take a break. Do not force yourself to learn something or tell yourself "just five more minutes". If you're going to have to go over what you skimmed in the last five minutes again because you didn't retain a lick of it, you might as well have not done it at all. Relax a little and loosen the reigns a bit. It's important to study, but it's also important to keep your mental health in tact.

**Here's an older post about how to study in college from last year and my studying playlist.**

What's one thing that you have to have when you're studying? I need music! I flip-fop between the studying playlist I linked above and a playlist I have on Spotify of strictly instrumentals (Explosions in the Sky are my favorite as well as the score for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).


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