You aren’t going to be able to study efficiently if you are using a bunch of notes that don’t make sense when you look over them. Take notes with the thought in mind of how you will use them later.
2. Find your spot
Library, second floor, reading room, second desk on the left. That’s my spot. I don’t know why, but when I get there, it feels familiar. When you have a specific spot that you use just for studying, you will find that it’s easier to get into the study mindset when you sit down.
3. Get into a routine
For me, it is most efficient to study and organize my notes and outlines right after class, when it’s fresh in my mind. I also find it’s best to study classes in a certain order every day. If you find the routine that works best for you and stay faithful to it, studying will actually become easier over time, as your mind will always be conditioned for what is coming next, and you won’t be asking, “now what should I do?”
4. Don’t procrastinate
5. Establish your code
Use highlighters, color pens, tabs – whatever helps you establish your “code.” Only I can decipher my code – I know exactly what the difference is between the light blue and dark blue highlighters mean, and what it means when the yellow highlighted words are underlined with red pen. Master your code, it’ll help you organize things in your head.
6. Create a class outline
A class outline is a compact version of your notes. For the typical college course, it probably shouldn’t be more than 7-10 pages of the most critical, basic elements of the class. Your outline helps you keep the class material organized and tight, and give you a “big picture” look at the entire class and how the material flows together
7. Take a break!
This sort of goes back the the “routine” section – Take note of how your study habits are naturally. Do you lose focus after an hour? 45 minutes? It is almost useless to study when you aren’t focused. What would take 30 minutes when you are focused might take an hour when you are unfocused, and you still probably won’t understand it as well. So, set boundaries. Study for 45 minutes, take 10 off (or whatever you think will work). Take a walk, surf the web, whatever helps you reset. Make sure that 10 minute break doesn’t turn into a 20+ minute break though…
8. Do as much studying during the day as you can
If at all possible, get your studying done before the sun goes down. You’ll be more alert and aware. If you’re studying when you’re supposed to be sleeping, your brain gets mad at you and doesn’t let you remember stuff later. Your brain is stubborn. Note: I did a lot of studying at night in college. You’ll still learn, and you’ll probably still do fine on the test. But if you have the opportunity to study during the day, that’s best.
9. Try to exercise and eat well
A lot of studies show that your physical health and mental health are directly related. The healthier you are physically, the more your brain can do.
10. Establish a study group
Note: I’m not a big fan of study groups. But that’s a personal preference. I don’t like them very much because it seems that a lot of time is spent helping the one guy/girl that doesn’t get it, or just talking about random stuff, while not actually learning anything new or increasing understanding of the material I already know. I personally feel like I can do better on my own. But, that’s me, and there are plenty of people who have found that study groups have made their understanding of particular class material more clear. Just make sure you are in a solid group with a few people that don’t want to waste time. If it works for you, that’s great. But if not, don’t waste your time with them.