The start of a new school year can mean different things to different people. While some may delight at the thought of new friendships made and new skills learned, others may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to balance a busy schedule of homework, projects, and exams, among other things.
If you’re in the latter group, we’re here to help dissipate that looming dark cloud above you with some creative studying tips you can use to get ahead and stay ahead this school year.
One of the most overlooked aspects of good study habits is the importance of planning. If you incorporate planned study time into each week, you’ll be ahead of the game should anything unexpected pop into your schedule, like a quiz or a particularly difficult assignment. Breaking up study time into small blocks throughout the week will also ensure that your mind stays sharp, which will help you better retain both old and new information.
- Be specific
It’s not enough to simply block off a set time for studying. That can easily lead to overwhelm once classes are in full swing. You’ll find it highly beneficial to set specific goals for each study session throughout your week so that you have a plan going in. Knowing that you’ll go over just the previous week’s notes on Monday morning before your afternoon classes is an attainable task that you’d be less likely to skip or put off. Plus, it will give you a confidence boost to start the week out on a high note!
- Knock out the hard stuff first
Your most difficult subject will require the most mental energy. Start with this first. Saving it for the end will often result in not working on it at all, which will put you behind. Plus, once it’s out of the way, you get to move on to a subject you like better, which is a good incentive!
- Eliminate distractions
We all know how easy it is to be distracted from something we don’t really want to be doing in the first place. But remember, getting the most out of your study time is key to keeping away those stress clouds. Plan to go somewhere quiet like the library or a campus study lounge, and only bring with you what you’ll need for that session. Turn your phone off or on silent—even better, put it out of sight until you take a break. Let your friends and family know when your study hours are so they know not to disrupt you if they can help it.
- Make connections
One way to make sure your friends don’t call you to hang out during your dedicated study hours? Invite them to join you! Studying in pairs or in a group helps keep everyone accountable, and makes it easier to work through tough coursework. Reach out to people in your classes to start a study group to meet every other week. Such support systems go a long way in fostering healthy study habits and higher grades, not to mention new friendships!
- Take care of yourself
As hard as it may be, opt for water over caffeine. Water helps keep you alert and focused for longer periods of time, while caffeine and sugar can quickly lead to sluggishness, which will having you dozing off over your textbook! Regular exercise and a balanced diet are also crucial for keeping on top of your studies without getting run down, especially when it comes to exam time. Your brain will retain more information when it’s well-rested and nourished.
- Have fun
Lastly, don’t get so caught up in your studies that you forget to have fun. Not all learning happens in a book. Live your school experience to the fullest by joining clubs and getting involved in activities at the beginning of the semester. In addition to your dedicated study blocks, schedule in some time each week to focus on a hobby you enjoy. Your test scores will thank you.
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