1. Prepare blocks of study time and break:
As your tests are approaching develop and plan for, blocks of study time in a typical week. Blocks ideally are around 50 minutes, but perhaps you become restless after only 30 minutes. Some difficult material may require more frequent breaks. Shorten your study blocks if necessary—but don’t forget to return to the task at hand! What you do during your break should give you an opportunity to have a snack, relax, or otherwise refresh or re-energize yourself. For example, place blocks of time when you are most productive: are you a morning person or a night owl?
2. Dedicated study spaces:
Determine a place free from distraction (no cell phone or text messaging!) where you can maximize your concentration and be free of the distractions that friends or hobbies can bring! You should also have a back-up space that you can escape to, like the library, departmental study center, even a coffee shop where you can be anonymous. A change of venue may also bring extra resources.
3. Weekly reviews:
Weekly reviews and updates are also an important strategy. Each week, like a Sunday night, review your words, your notes, your calendar. Be mindful that as deadlines and exams approach, your weekly routine must adapt to them!
4. Prioritize your assignments:
When studying, get in the habit of beginning with the most difficult subject or task. You’ll be fresh, and have more energy to take them on when you are at your best. For more difficult courses of study, try to be flexible.
5. Postpone unnecessary activities until the work is done!
Postpone tasks or routines that can be put off until your school work is finished! This can be the most difficult challenge. Distracting activities will be more enjoyable later without the pressure of the test, assignment, etc. hanging over your head. Think in terms of pride of accomplishment. Instead of saying “no” learn to say “later”.
6. Identify resources to help you
Are there tutors? An “expert friend”? Have you tried a keyword search on the Internet to get better explanations? Are there specialists in the library that can point you to resources? What about professionals and professional organizations. Using outside resources can save you time and energy, and solve problems.
7. Use your free time wisely
Think of times when you can study “bits” as when walking, riding the bus, etc. Perhaps you’ve got music to listen to for your course in music appreciation, or drills in language learning? If you are walking or biking to school, when best to listen? Perhaps you are in a line waiting? Perfect for routine tasks like flash cards, or if you can concentrate, to read or review a chapter. The bottom line is to put your time to good use.
8. Review notes and readings just before class
This may prompt a question or two about something you don’t quite understand, to ask about in class, or after. It also demonstrates to your teacher that you are interested and have prepared.
9. Review lecture notes just after class
Then review lecture material immediately after class.
The first 24 hours are critical. Forgetting is greatest within 24 hours without review!