How to study at a university without going crazy
Don’t just expect that somebody else will force you to study. You’re an adult now so people at a university will treat you accordingly. Attending lectures and studying is voluntary and teachers won’t ask you exam questions in front of the whole class anymore or check that you revised the study material from the previous lesson.
This is the reason why so many students are surprised at the end of their first term—they suddenly find out how many essays and information they have to process. Study materials for one exam are often comparable to the whole secondary school graduation exam. How to successfully pass your first exam period without going crazy? Stick to these three rules.
1) Don’t fall behind
Attend lectures and take notes. You don’t have to write down everything the teacher says but note down at least general ideas so that you know what to study later. From time to time, note down something interesting as well. This helps you to remember what the topic of the lecture was about. Also, try not to lose your precious notes and store them safely somewhere you’ll surely find them.
If you have a textbook, underline important facts. Don’t worry; you won’t become a nerd if you do so. Notes and study materials borrowed from another person don’t have to fit your learning style as you probably won’t understand inner connections so even a very easy question at the exam might take you by surprise.
2) Keep track of essential dates
Don’t write important deadlines on random pieces of paper. Buy a diary, a calendar or use some handy phone app. Record all dates at one place so you won’t miss anything. If you discover that you have several essays due for the same week, start working on them right away.
Don’t live by the rule “what you can do today, put off until tomorrow” as you’ll easily postpone the task until the day after tomorrow and you will soon find yourself in time pressure. Try to plan as well as you can.
3) Plan your exams and use effective study techniques
If possible, sign up for two exams a week at maximum and on different days so that study materials don’t intermix and you won’t get stressed out. Unfortunately, there isn’t one correct way of planning for the exams; everyone has their own methods and styles that fit them specifically.
Still, one general rule is that the repetition works every single time. Use the commuting time and review at least for ten minutes your notes from the previous class. Your exam won’t be such a torture afterwards.
If some study material seems impossible to remember, make use of the mnemonic technique. You surely still remember “my very excellent mother just served us nine pizzas” for the order of planets in our solar system. And that’s it!
And the last piece of advice—it’s better to learn something from each chapter or a topic than only half from the whole amount of your study material.
“When trying to study for an exam in a short period of time, you’re not able to fully comprehend the study material. At a university, it’s not really about memorising definitions and terms—it’s about thinking in a context,” said Hana Horká, the leader of the department of primary education, for the study portal muni.cz.
For every semester you successfully pass, give yourself some motivational reward. It might be a small present, a trip somewhere nice or a few days off. Rewards can become your inner engine to endure following months of your studies.
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