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Studying: A primer


With the inevitable doom of finals fast approaching, students are feeling the threat of crunch time upon us. Only one week of classes and the Thanksgiving holiday sit between us and exams. So how do we prepare? We study, and we study well.

This semester may bring with it a special challenge due to an entire week off prior to exams tempting students to forget about their troubles, fill their bellies with a feast to make up for all the Ramen of the past four months, and even begin making plans for the winter break, but it is also important to take the time afforded to us to prepare for our last test.

You may be planning now to visit your folks, unwind, and to catch that episode of The Walking Dead, but according to Avanti Ammons, a Liberal Arts Major, it’s important to her to also plan ahead time to study so she isn’t caught waiting until the last minute and cramming far too much information at once.

Making the plan ahead of time, she says, helps ensure that she will put the time into it, and if she is steadily memorizing the material she needs, then she will retain it better for when the time comes to use it.

So you have planned the time, but what do you do now? Not only do you need to plan a time to study, but you need to plan on where to study.

Find a place that works for you and stick with it. Eventually you will be accustomed to studying in that place and you will be more motivated to stick to your studying rather than giving into distractions.

Staci Burton, double majoring in History and English, and Marie Foreman, majoring in English and minoring in Psychology, both have a particular place where they like to sit down to go over notes and books to prepare for approaching tests.

Staci says that what is best for her is to find a remote corner in the Houston Cole Library, plug in her laptop, and her headphones, while Marie prefers a desk in the corner of her dorm.

It doesn’t have to be a typical study area, so long as it is a consistent area in which you feel comfortable studying.

After you find a place to study it’s time to plan how you will study. It may seem like a no-brainer. Everyone knows how to read over notes, and the classic tricks like flash cards are still the favorite of many students such as Avanti, but there may be a few tricks out there that you have not tried that may benefit you.

Justin Cottrell, who majors in History and minors in French, finds that listening to his favorite music while studying, in this case Reggae, actually helps him memorize the material through association. He knows his favorite songs well, and when he remembers the songs he also remembers what he was reading or writing while he listened to them. It may help to pick your songs and artists deliberately rather than to simply listen to your usual playlist.

Personally, I prefer to remove all visual cues to memorize information. When I read my notes, I will read a few sentences, look away, and then run through the information in my head until I’m certain it will stay there; however I will reread what I memorized to make sure I got it right. I feel like this method has really sped up the process because I am forcing myself to memorize it rather than relying solely on reading the words repeatedly.

A common pattern I noticed when interviewing students was that most people seek to isolate themselves when they study. This is a good method for concentration, but it also lacks the benefit of another person to ensure you have everything right.

Brett Fleming, a Computer Information Systems major who minors in Business, attends a study group for his courses. Brett says having a study group is useful because everyone can have different notes as well as different answers to study questions. They can compare their answers, correct mistakes, and if someone doesn’t understand an answer, help each other explain that answer. Not only that, but when comparing answers they can discuss which answer is the best and most complete to satisfy the question.

Now that you have studied the art of studying, you can now prepare for your final test. Study well, kick stress to the curb, and leave your final exam confident that you’re ready for what comes next.

Most important of all, enjoy the break that follows. You’ve earned it.

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