Bonjour à tous!
I have just graduated from University, so I thought I’d write a little guide on how to be a boss at studying. As someone with a High Distinction average, I’d say that my little tips and tricks do work pretty well. I’d love to share them with you to help you excel at your own study and get those fantastic grades!
Boss Tip #1: Plan, plan, plan!
This is by far the most important and most implemented tip I use when I study. At the beginning of the week, I write out each day of the week and figure out on what days I’ll have time to do what homework, and slot it in! Now, I don’t generally put times in because that stresses me out too much and some projects may take longer than previously thought.
I usually put all of the major assignment and test dates in my diary, and then I use that to do my weekly plan. All this might sound a little crazy, but trust me, it really helps. It is also really great when you have planned to get things done on certain days and you get things done early, you can have a really well-deserved rest and properly enjoy it.
Boss Tip #2: Write well & Proofread
Make sure that you write well! I realise that this may come a little easier to some than others, but there are a lot of resources out there to help. If you are at a University, they more than likely have a Writing Centre or some sort of resource to help students. At my own University, there is definitely a Writing Centre available.
There are also a myriad of resources online about how to write well; how to write an essay, a report, a business proposal…. Almost anything you can think of! I have quite literally used online resources to find out how to write in different styles and done really well with it. Just make sure that they’re from reliable sources.
Definitely proofread your work. After you have finished writing, go away for a good twenty minutes. Come back and read your work out loud. This may seem tedious but it will really help you to pick up any errors or mistakes you may have made. You might think the essay is more about the content than the way it is written, but trust me, GOOD WRITING MATTERS. Even if your content is on point, if it is written sloppily you will get marked down.
Boss Tip #3: Do your readings on the week they’re set
I know that we all have a lot going on in our lives, what with work, family, friends, health, and a whole lot of other commitments on top of our study. However, it is important to at the very least skim over your required readings for the week. This can be done on the bus or the train after work or uni. If you read it before the lecture, it helps you to get into the right mindset. If you do it after, it helps you to really consolidate the information you learned.
And consolidating that knowledge is what it is all about, right? You want to understand what you’re learning. If you consolidate and understand the knowledge earlier in the piece, by the time it comes to exams, you will find it a lot easier to revise.
Boss Tip #4: Review your notes & Test Yourself
Have a read over your notes, highlight what is particularly important, and look up anything that you don’t understand. This is advice for during the semester. When you are revising for exams, I advise not only reading over your notes but re-writing them. When I am going through exam time, I usually write notes from every lecture, and then any important extra information from each week (whether it be from the textbook or a tutorial).
Testing yourself is more important than just simple re-reading and re-writing, though. It is the only way that you will know that you know the information. Sometimes people sort of think that they’ll be right, and they know the information. Then they get into the exam and find this to be untrue. It is ALWAYS better to test yourself. If the course doesn’t offer a practice exam, create your own questions. Get a friend or family member to ask you questions and answer them. If you don’t have this, record yourself asking the questions and answer them. It sounds silly, but it works. Do you want that high grade? Do it.
Boss Tip #5: Listen to classical music whilst studying
It has been proven that listening to classical music does actually help you to study. I have tried listening to other music whilst I study, but the lyrics always end up distracting me. My brain can’t fully focus on the task at hand whilst it is concurrently tuning into the lyrics.
This is especially true when I am trying to study a foreign language. How can I study any French words or grammar when I hear English words in my ear? The classical music provides me with a flow through which I can implement my ideas. It is fantastic, and you should try it too!
Boss Tip #6: Have a pre-deadline deadline
This is a top idea for group assignments. I was talking to a friend the other day who was worried about a deadline, as her group member still hadn’t finished the work. When I am in group assignments, I like to create pre-deadline deadlines (PDD). We have deadlines for having our information, and for putting it together. This is really important, especially for editing purposes.
Often things come up in our lives, and sometimes group members just don’t have things done. This PDD ensures that they get the work done before the real deadline. And if they don’t, you are able to harangue them into completing it (jks)! This might sound a little harsh, but sometimes people do need a little encouraging in order to get things done.
At the same time, I would make the PDD decision together as a group, and avoid taking over all of the decision making. I would also be understanding as to real and legitimate reasons as to why people may be unable to finish certain things on time. You want everyone to feel like they are contributing equally, and you don’t want them to feel controlled – this can be a fine line sometimes! Group work at Uni- I’ve never met anyone who liked it too much, but it’s gotta be done!
This also works really well for individual assessments in order to make sure you don’t go over the due date. Getting in on the due date avoids losing easy marks!
Boss Tip #7: Talk to your teachers
I can’t stress enough the importance of talking to your teachers. Ever since I was in high school, I have been keeping an open dialogue with my teachers. Now, obviously at Uni we don’t ask teachers to look at our drafts or anything like that (oh, those breezy days at high school!). However, I like to make sure that I fully understand what my teachers expect of me and what they want with certain assignments. Now, I also want to obviously have my own voice and style (and not just kiss the teacher’s butt – I am definitely not interested in any of that!). However, the teachers are (usually) in their position for a reason! They have the knowledge! They are there to help you learn! Utilise them as resources.
Now, I also want to let you know that I have TOTALLY experienced those teachers who say “hmm… surprise me” about a really confusing and unclear assignment. This can be INCREDIBLY frustrating indeed. We all know these people – the ones too busy with their own research to bother helping out their students. In this case, I would just do it the best way you can using resources from online or from your library. Most good teachers I have had will actually have some idea of what they’re looking for, or some sort of advice to help you on your way. Thank you to those teachers!
Boss Tip #8: Get Visual
Our brains remember the visual way better than the written word. Your ability to get visual with your studies may depend on your content. If you are in an engineering or architecture based type of class, it may be easier to draw the diagrams and label them in order to remember. If you are in a class where there are a lot more words than diagrams – get out your highlighter to make it visual. Make each important point or each topic a different colour.
I have this rather strange little thing I do to remember speeches and things I need to memorise really well. Actually, I don’t think it is all that weird but I once had a teacher tell me that, so there you go. I get each sentence and I write it in symbols. Symbols that symbolise each word or idea I wish to discuss. This has helped me to ace exams and give fantastic speeches.
Boss Tip #9: Cite well
A lot of assignments allocate grades to citations. These are easy marks that you don’t want to risk losing. The further I get into the rabbit hole of Academia (maybe one day I’ll be in PhD wonderland), the more I realise that proper referencing is actually a sign of respect to the author(s) of the source. And I want to respect them! So I try to source properly. It is also not too hard given that there are so many resources out there outlining how to source in many different sourcing types. The University ones are generally the best, so I’d say to use them, particularly your own University’s guide if they have one.
Boss Tip #10: Learn from what you got wrong
One of the most important things to do is to learn from your mistakes. Just the other day I actually got a lower mark than what I desired for my French test (I’m doing another degree! – Linguistics). After my class, I sat down and wrote out corrections for each of the things I did wrong, and double checked the grammar rules online. When it comes time for exams and future written and grammar tests, I will look over these notes. This will help me to remember the correct way to do them as well as improving my knowledge!
I hope that some of these tips will help you with your studies into the future. One of the most important things is to try to make it fun (this is a lot easier if its a subject you enjoy!) and to focus on what you’re doing: be in the moment while you’re doing it!