By: Emma Norton
If you’re like me, you got to college and had absolutely no idea of how to study. High school was very easy, and it was a rare occurrence that you had to do more than look over your notes for a test. However, you get to college and the tests get harder and there is more material that you have to understand in shorter time-periods. I wanted to share study tips that I wish I had known coming into college and have helped me keep good grades throughout my time at UW-Whitewater!
First, it may be a no-brainer, but most people forget to make a study schedule. You can plan out your days or weeks leading up to an exam with a schedule in a planner or on a whiteboard. This will help to break the information into sections, making it easier to study and retain the information. Instead of cramming all of the information the night before an exam, you should study over the span of a few days. This has been proven to increase test scores, and I have experienced a change in higher grades since I started studying for shorter periods of time over the span of a few days. The American Psychological Association recommends spacing out your study sessions over a week or a few days because it will improve your long term memory skills. This will help you during the test because your brain can access that stored long term information that is necessary to pass!
Secondly, one thing that has aided me tremendously is hand-writing my notes instead of typing them on a computer. To physically write out the letters takes more cognitive awareness than typing does. This means that you remember things better when you write them down! I have noticed that my retention of information has improved drastically since I stopped typing my notes and started writing them. Another thing you can do to improve your study skills is writing terms down multiple times. This helps especially when learning or developing a new language, so anyone who has a major or minor in a foreign language, this is a tip for you! Writing terms multiple times forces you to concentrate on the word and the meaning associated to it, and stores it in your long term memory for access during your exam!
If you ever feel like you cannot focus in your room or common area, I would recommend changing your location! By doing this, you eliminate the distractions around you and give yourself a new environment! At UWW, I would recommend the study rooms on the third and fourth floors of Hyland, the study room in Laurentide, Anderson Library, or Minnieska Commons in the UC. These are some great places to go when you need an environment change and a great place to study!
Finally, a great way to test if you know your information is to use flashcards, Quizlet, or practice tests to quiz yourself on the information. This is one of my favorite ways to study because you can utilize these every time you sit down to study, and track your progress over multiple study sessions! Quizzing yourself on the information is important because it shows whether you have retained the information you have been learning about, or whether you need to try one of the many other methods for studying!
I hope this might help you when finals week rolls around and you aren’t exactly sure where to start with the studying process. These are just a few options that have worked for me and others in the past when studying for exams! The best advice I can give you is to ask how your friends study or how your professors recommend you study for their class. Good luck on all of your exams!