10 Mistakes + 10 Resolutions: Studying

The Mistakes:

1) Not using an Agenda to stay organized – I always lost the scrap pieces of paper I made notes on or would forget when something was due. Luckily in my course, everyone took the exact same courses, so it was easy to ask a classmate. This semester I am not so lucky.

2) Cramming the night before the test or exam – I am notorious for making all of my summary notes the night before the exam. However, I found that when I did make my study notes in advanced, I did not spend as much time going over the material as I should the night before the testing. This year I hope to find a happy medium!

3) Highlighting or writing every detail down in my study notes – I am very bad at picking out the most important details when making my study notes. I spend hours almost copying out my class notes word for word and then several more hours summarizing those notes and trying to condense my study sheet. This was a great way of learning for me and forcing me to go through the material several times but it prevented me from focusing on the most important details. (This year I am hoping to try the Cornell method of note-taking combined with a few other study techniques I have implemented since high school)

4) Sacrificing my social life because of bad study habits – When I was in college, every other week we had pubs/dances on Thursday nights and I missed most of them – half of which I could have attended for I had started studying in advance. There will always be times when you have to sacrifice something to get a good grade but if you spend more time studying instead of relaxing around your dorm on slow days, then you will be able to experience college more.

5) Falling asleep in class – it is inevitable – you will stay up late studying one night and sleep through a portion of your class OR  you will have a class in a stuffy, hot room in the early afternoon that has perfect napping conditions (this was Anatomy Lab during my first year). This is not only disrespectful to your teacher but it also means that you are missing out on information, explanation, and tips of what to focus on.

6) Not reading the material in advance – especially if you have all the material. It does not take long to quickly read through material before class – you do not have to memorize the material or even take notes at this time, you just need to read through it so you can participate more in class. Also, ALWAYS read the assigned reading.

7) Not eating properly during exam week – I know that life is hectic during exams and that sometimes it is easier to eat food that is quick to prepare or to just skip meals. If you are normally perfectly healthy – then this might not be too terrible. My body is finicky in that it is prone to dizziness and fainting if I SOMETIMES go an extended period of time without eating enough. I gambled with this in college during exam week and I lost – I had to miss out on one of my exams because I was too weak to stand or walk without my vision going black AND the worst part is that I had to make up the exam on a later date when I should have been on winter break.

8) Letting my computer distract me when studying – this was extremely distracting because I was quick to waste time reading blogs or scrolling through Facebook instead of studying. Also, I always insisted on having a Youtube video on in the background which helped me focus sometimes and completely distracted me otherwise. I probably wasted many valuable studying hours over two years by only paying half attention when studying. My suggestion? If you need background music to study then use a radio or an MP3 player without any games or WiFi access to prevent you from temptation.

9) Letting a bad grade or testing experience ruin my day – no matter how much you prepare for a test or exam, there will always be one that will test you on things you did not think were as important (a.k.a. you read over that section once). I always let bad tests ruin my day and often I had more than one test a day – this meant that I spent precious studying time being worried about the previous test rather than the one I had not taken yet.

10) Not using the supplied review material to my advantage – several of my textbooks came with review questions or practices quizzes and some of my instructors handed out study guides. While I did refer this material occasionally, I did not permanently add them into my studying routine because I never seemed to have enough time. But that material is there for a reason and sometimes teachers will take exact questions from those in textbook quizzes or from their sample review questions. Not to mention completing those mock quizzes or study guides forces you to recall the information making you more likely to remember it.

The Resolutions:

1) Consistently use my agenda and scheduling to my advantage – it does not have to be neat, colour coded, or extremely organized. It just needs to be written down.

2) Banish cramming in favour of small study sessions throughout the week – cramming for an hour or two the night before the test is fine as long as that is not the first time I am reviewing the information.

3) Use the Cornell Method and Summarize, Summarize, Summarize– rather than highlight every word or recording every detail, I hope to put things in my own words as briefly as possible. The Cornell method of note-taking combined with pneumonics, acronyms, concept maps, graphic organizers and concise study sheets should help make this possible.

4) Keep balance between studying and social life – I will make time for socializing with family, friends, and Mr. BMW and make time for studying. I will not sacrifice social experiences that occur a day or two before a test because I was not smart enough to study further in advance.

5) Staying awake in class – most of my classes have at least an hour break in between each class – if I am really that tired at school, I will find a safe place during my breaks.

6) Reading material in advance – this will help me to process information during lecture more efficiently and ask questions for clarification.

7) Making health a priority – it is difficult for me to always eat healthy and consistently eat three meals a day due to my extreme laziness when it comes to eating. I simply need to make eating right and frequently a priority – whether this means keeping muffins in my room instead or the kitchen or having to spend an hour once a week cutting up fruit and vegetable slices and planning my meals.

8) Studying without my computer – I have decided that when I am processing information for the purposes of studying, I need to do so without my computer handy. I will continue to use Youtube to research educational videos but will do so when I do not have a test the following day.

9) Learning to accept a bad grade or experience and move on – I simply need to accept that I did or did not prepare for a test properly and move on completing the next task. If I over analyze tests I have completed then I will not focus on newer material. If I put my effort into getting a better grade on my next test, then my makes will not be as negatively affected.

10) Using supplied review material and study groups to my advantage – Four out of five of my courses this semester hold peer-led study sessions once or twice a week and my textbooks hold plenty of extra review questions and practice. I will do my best to consistently incorporate these into my personal study sessions to allow me to perform better in my classes.