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Study Techniques (Part 1)

Do you have a huge project you need to do, homework to complete, a book to read, or an exam to prepare for that makes you cringe, procrastinate, and hide…??? Instead, you: scroll through IG, listen to an audiobook, or message all your friends to check up on them?) Do you feel like you are sitting in front of this new huge jigsaw puzzle box, see how the puzzle is supposed to look, but for the moment, just know there are lots of puzzle pieces in the box? You don’t know how many, how they will fit together, and how long that will take. But you do know you need to do it anyhow?

Well, here are some tips on how to start, keep moving, and finish whatever it is!

1. Break your task down into mini-tasks

Write down ALL you need to do. Put it into order. Make a checklist. Check all off!

Example: Class project on “X”.

1. Find out what you already know.

2. Then find out what you don’t know. Where can you find info about it? In your textbooks, YouTube, or from your roommate because he had to do the same last year?

3. If it is a project: Do you need any special material for it? If yes, what? Where can you buy it?

4. If you need to study/read: check how many pages you need to work through.

5. Check how long you have for this project (or for studying). Count the days.

6. Divide the pages by the days (ex: study material: 30 pages divided by 3 days to study: 30 / 3 = 10 pages a day) (Gulp, reality sets in…)

7. Put all (also the small tasks) into order (1. I have to do this, 2. Buy that, and so on…)

8. Put a “” in front of it and make it a checklist.

9. Take your calendar out, look at the exact dates, and make a schedule. (Warning: finding out exactly what you need to do can be scary… be brave!)

10. Leave some room. Meaning, if you have to finish on the 5th of December, plan to have it completed by the 3rd. There are always unexpected events that may happen, and this way, you have a buffer of two days! (It feels so good when you finish early!)

2. How to study

Do you find it dreadful to look ahead at another full day of studying? Trick your brain!

The Pomodoro (tomato) Technique

Does study time of three hours sound boring and overwhelming? Yes, but I bet you can easily do 25 minutes (because that’s what researchers found out.) Set a timer for 25 minutes (one tomato), turn your phone on silent, sit in a quiet place, and maybe put your noise-canceling headphones on or stick in those earplugs. Concentrate on studying for 25 minutes only, not more, not less. Then take a 5-minute break! After that, study another “tomato”, then another break, another tomato, and after that, you take a 15 or 25 (if you need to eat) minute break. Study a maximum of 3 times in total in one stretch because your brain will be fried after that! After the 25-minute break, start again! (The researched 25 minutes might be 20 or 30 min for you personally, 25 is the average. But do not make it longer than 30 min because after that your concentration will fade away slowly.)

Plan a special activity for your 5-minute break. This makes it something to look forward to and gives your brain a rest. Examples for the 5-minute break: doing jumping jacks (gets your heart and butt moving), scrolling through Instagram, doing push-ups, and having a glass of water while watching TikTok or coloring a mandala. Some kind of movement is really a good idea, even if it is just for a minute…When the time is up, go back to studying. And remember to set the timer! Copy the same idea for the 15 or 25-minute break. Plan ahead for: having a snack, walking over to your friend’s room, taking a shower, calling your mom, or doing an online Zumba class.

Make a list of your break ideas and have it ready in an easily reachable place (in your phone or on your wall). It has to be easy to find; if not, you will spend your precious 5-minute break thinking about what to do for the next five minutes… (for your info: been there…).

The App I use and where you can set up different activities is “Multitimer”.

3. Revision

Repeat, repeat, repeat….

Your brain needs to see, hear, and revise things at least three times to realize, “Well, we have been repeating the same old subject so many times, I’d better remember it”. Make a revision schedule. Warning: this will take extra time, but it is really worth it because, during the last revision, you will be like, “I have definitely got it now!”.

1. Study and revise at the end of the day (e.g., 10th November)

2. Revise the next day (e.g., 11th November)

3. Revise the day after that (e.g., 12th November)

4. Revise in one week (e.g., 19th November)

5. Revise again one day before the exam (im-por-tant!)

Breaking everything down this way will make studying less challenging because you know where to start, namely with number 1 on your list! But what do you do if you find implementing all this at once too difficult? Then, pick one technique and try it out. Get used to it, and then next time, try out another one. One step at a time, you will get ahead, feel less stressed, and get the task done!

Reminder: Schedule your study time

Write…it…down! Schedule all and put a little checkbox in front of the activities so that you can check them off “”!! (So satisfying!) If it is scheduled, is very likely to get done. If it’s only in your head, most probably it won’t because time flies, someone messaged you, and then you were thirsty and, you know what I mean…

4. Something to consider: do you like studying on your own or with classmates?

If you find it easier to do it yourself (because you are the only one you need to control), then do that. If you need an accountability partner and love to interchange ideas and get quizzed, then study with someone else. Maybe in one subject, you need peace and quiet to get it done on your own, and in another subject, you understand it better working with someone else, also okay! It all depends on your personal preference!

GOOD LUCK with your exams!!!! You can do this!!!!

Kindly, Andrea

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