One of the secrets to success in college is learning what strategy works best for you in learning the material in a course. Outlined below are some questions you need to find out about yourself. Be careful when you consider these questions. Often you can fool yourself by thinking one approach is better than others until you have tried out other study approaches. Always remember not to give up, don’t ever think “studying is just not for me”. Everyone can learn how to study. There are a number of different approaches, and certain people need certain approaches.
You really should try to figure out what environments and types of studying work for you quickly. Try a new one every day until you find the one that “clicks.” Once you figure this out things will become easier, but then you may find that this only works for certain classes and you need to do something different for other types of classes.
At what time of the day is it best for you to do difficult math/science classes? Generally a person’s mind works best when it is well rested. Most students find it easier to study and get their work done in between classes. Generally you should try to get most of your work done between 8-5 because this is generally the time of day that you are most productive and focused. Try to find study buddies to help you study, and make study dates so you feel less obligated to break the studying plans.
- What environment works best for you when you are studying?
- I need a quiet environment for studying
- I like to study with background music
- I like to study somewhere that I can’t be interrupted
- I work best in a busy place (ex. the student union)
- I like to study alone
- I like to study with other people
- I think better being in a bright room
- I like being in a dimly lit room with a light over my work
- I like to study in a comfortable place
- How do you manage your focus in studying?
- I can study intensely for long periods of time without taking a break
- I prefer to study in short blocks of time rather than in long blocks of time
- It takes me (fill in blank) minutes to get going when I study, but once I get started I can go for a long period of time
- How are you affected by the following issues when studying?
- Lack of food
- Too much food
- Too quiet or too noisy
- Intermittent sounds
- Continuous background sounds (ex. Music)
- Interruptions (ex. text messaging)
- Being tired
- Lack of exercise
- Day dreaming
- Worrying about personal issues
- Inability to focus on the course material
- Social networks
- Cell phones
Once you have done an honest evaluation of each of these, you should have a good idea of what works best for you. The challenge that most students face is developing the discipline to use your best approach. For example, if you need to work in a quiet environment, do you force yourself to work in such an environment? Most juniors and seniors have this discipline, but this takes time to develop..