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4 Tips for Effective Study Sessions

April 19, 2011

#1) Triage: Do the most important work first

This sounds obvious, but do the most important things first. We often want to do the enjoyable things first, like the work for the class we’re strong in, or the things that will be easy. Yet this often leaves us either exhausted, or with less time to handle our weaker or more important subjects.  If there’s a math quiz tomorrow it’s PROBABLY more important than the chemistry homework assignment due next week. This shouldn’t be taken as permission to procrastinate, we do the important things first, but we still take the time we need to get through the rest of our study plan. Prepare for the quiz first when your brain is fresh, then do your chemistry homework.

#2) Don’t try to do it all in one night

Studying for quizzes and exams is most effective when done over time. Prepare for a test several times the week before in smaller sessions, instead of trying to cram the night before. Space it out, and give your brain time to take it in. Plan what you’re going to cover at each session, give yourself set goals for each session so that it won’t turn into the endless slog.

#3) Stay in the zone: where to study

You want your study area to be free of distractions, have lots of space, and be well lit. Unfortunately, very few bedrooms meet these criteria. Not to mention that trying to study on a bed just begs for a nap. You may find that doing your homework in the kitchen or dining room allows you to get through it faster. Many of us don’t realize how many distractions lurk in the average teenage bedroom, 5 minutes here, and ten minutes there can really drag out homework time. Try a few sessions in a different location, and see what happens.

#4) Have a plan

There are entire books written on academic organization. We’ll focus here on simply having a plan. Before you start, ask yourself, “What NEEDS to get done tonight?” and “What else can I work on tonight?” Now triage the answers from those two questions, what’s the most important and what’s the least?  Plan out how much time you’ll allot to each activity tonight, rough estimates are okay, but note the subjects that took more time than planned.  Once you’re finished for the night, take a moment to reflect on what else needs to get done this week, like projects, and review for exams. Make a note if something in that list NEEDS to get done tomorrow. Now… Pack your bag with all the books and binders you’ll need for tomorrow. Don’t wait until the morning when you’re half asleep to try and remember and find everything.

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One Comment
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