18.1.15

All-nighters! Studying! Midterms! Oh my!

That's right, folks. Let's get ready for exams.
This is going to be a generally short post, since I (too) have just begun studying for exams that start in two (2!!) days. So, because this is the season of stress and scan-trons, I've decided to list down a few study tips to help you out on this journey to 2nd semester grades.


How To Study by DanDaiKa


Environment

Let's start with where you should hold your studies. You should set up in a quiet, distraction-free area. That means the television and radio are off (unless music is a must, then please see the Music section). This could be a library, bedroom, kitchen table, but it's safer to stay far away from the television as not to be tempted to turn it on. This also goes with cellphones. So, what if you're a person who focuses best with a little background noise? If anything, you should keep it shut off until you're ready to take a break, and refrain from watching it for more than 10-20 minutes so the information you previously reviewed doesn't "fade" from your mind. 

Ultimately, this depends on person-by-person preference, so if you are honestly capable of multitasking between studying and television without any problems, then go for it! Who am I to stop you?

Materials

To begin, you need the essentials; textbooks, binders, folders, extra loose leaf paper sheets or a notebook specifically for each subject, any given review papers, and an outside source for research (when it can't be found in your textbook; since we're trying to avoid technology, a dictionary or encyclopedia would be best). You will also need at least 3 sharpened pencils with full erasers and a sharpener, pens (black, red ink for correcting), and highlighters (nothing too fancy. If not in your possession, you can purchase a pack from as little as 39 cents. No smear if highlighting written text, basic pack colours: yellow, pink, green, orange work best. Refrain from blue, since it bleeds easier and can become too dark). Lastly, and optionally, blank note cards or post-its.

Assign a colour for specific categories, such as: yellow for question answers found in passage, pink for additional details you might need to know later, green for dates and names, etc. Make sure to keep a key somewhere on the paper so you remember which you used for which. Always highlight the passage in which you found the answer to a question, as to double-check yourself and ask about if necessary, and write the question number next to the highlighted text.

Make sure to mark incorrect answers with a different colour ink than what you used to write. You can erase a wrong answer and replace it, but when looking over your paper, you won't know what question you had trouble on or what you need to go over again. Another smart thing to do is keep a separate sheet of paper to write down the question you answered incorrectly, the correct answer, and an explanation on why that answer is correct so you fully understand it.

Use the post-its and note cards to jot down concepts you are having trouble with or bookmark important pages in a textbook or dictionary for reference. These can also be color-sorted, but it is not truly needed.

If possible, email a teacher with the questions you've written down on the notes. They'll usually be very willing to assist you, since their goal is to make sure you pass!

If you are unable to obtain a physical dictionary or encyclopedia copy, download an app so you aren't tempted to go online for one thing and spend half a day doing another (I know all about that).

Always keep extra supplies on hand, as it's better to be safe than sorry!


Music

Yes, I will admit that there are times when studying in silence gets rather uncomfortable. However, there are a few things to know about music before you blast just any playlist while working. First, don't listen at a high volume. Do you know how in some fancy restaurants they have soft music playing over the speakers? Not loud enough to distract you from conversation, but just enough to keep it pleasant. That's how studying music should be. Second, choose songs without words, and with a slower tempo. It's fun to listen to fast, bubblegum pop love earworms, but it is not appropriate for studying. It's a lot like television; you'll be too busy focusing on the lyrics of the song, and not on the text in your books. You may be skimming and think you've gotten everything, but you haven't. Trust me. 

Instead, try some piano music, or just instrumentals to slow songs you like. Here's a list of videos to test out and see if you like. Audio can be ripped from this site

The best times to begin studying is from morning to mid afternoon, take a few hours for break, and continuing in the evening until you reach a reasonable time to "call it a day" and sleep. If this isn't possible, at least make sure your morning-afternoon or evening-night is free. This usually means from 8AM to 2PM, then 6PM to 9PM, but it's still pretty flexible! Sleep is important, too, because you won't be able to focus and work properly on little sleep and coffee.


So, this is it! See? I said it was going to be a short post. This is all based on experiences I've had and what I've seen work best for others, so if this doesn't work for you then don't worry. They're merely suggestions on improvement. Now you have a few tips to help you prepare for exams, or any tests in the near future! Now I need to return to my own...


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