Study Tactics of the Successful Scholar

Posted by: Taylor Williams - September 20, 2013

Summer break is over, and it’s time to dust the cobwebs out of the recesses of your mind once used for calculus equations and Socrates’ musings to make room for another year of challenging academia. Here are a few tips to starting this academic year off on the right foot:

  1. Go to class! With some classes feeling more optional than others—8 a.m. Greek Mythology in the 100+ student lecture hall with Professor Monotone—it’s easy to hit the snooze button and catch a few more hours of shut-eye. Resist the temptation to view class time as anything but mandatory and your GPA will thank you for it.
  2. Schedule, schedule, schedule. Those syllabi handed out the first week of classes are actually quite handy when given more than the cursory glance. Use your collection of syllabi as a road map to scheduling your semester in a daily planner. Noting important dates such as exams, papers and projects will allow you to plan an adequate amount of time to prepare for each event, meaning fewer crazed, late-night study sessions fueled by Red Bull and Chinese take-out.
  3. Flash cards…They work. The use of flashcards is a tried and true study tactic that is proven to aid in the memorization of facts and figures due to the repetitive nature of the technique.
  4. Study during the day. Nothing will put you to sleep faster than studying for Philosophy 101, EXCEPT studying for Philosophy 101 after the sun has gone down. If possible, limit intense study sessions to daylight hours, which is when your mind is at its sharpest.
  5. Take breaks. For every one hour of studying, take a ten-minute mental recess. Studying non-stop for more than an hour will cause mental alertness to diminish, so giving yourself a 10-minute hiatus will keep your mind running on all cylinders.
  6. Alternate study locations. Studying in the same location and staring at the same four walls for hours on end can start to feel like a torture scene from Saw V. According to cognitive scientists and The New York Times, changing up the scenery while studying will increase your ability to retain information as memory is linked to location, so switching it up will enhance your ability to recall all of Jupiter’s moons on command.
  7. Visit your professor during office hours. Seeking help from your professor during office hours is a sure-fire way to guarantee success in the class. Professors are excited to help students who take initiative in their education and show an eagerness to learn the material. Also, this allows the professor to put a face to a name, which will come in handy when dolling out final grades to a class roster of more than 100 students.
  8. Test yourself. It takes more than passive memorization of facts to truly imbed information into your long-term memory, which is why testing yourself using old exams and textbook quizzes is a great way to actively assess your memory of information as well as actively improve the likelihood you will retain that information.
  9. Get some sleep! You aren’t doing yourself any favors by studying for a consecutive 13 hours; a tired mind is a slow and ineffective mind. Plus, the calculator imprint on your face once you do finally pass out from fatigue will only illicit puzzled looks from fellow students and the professor.