You’ve almost survived the semester and it’s nearly winter break! You’ve pulled the all-nighters and managed not to murder any of your teammates in that dreaded group project.
If you’re anything like me, finding time to study is only half the battle. Fighting procrastination and trying to retain everything from what little study time you have can be an unending struggle that results in late nights and panda eyes.
Don’t stress out! You can reach the Promised Land by trying out these weird unconventional study tips (plus one for the essay-writers). Right, let’s get to it!
1. When in doubt, YouTube it.
I guess this pertains to only subjects like Science and Medicine where it’s all the same in every country (cf. Law where it’s jurisdiction based). If you’re tired of reading the material in a book, check out YouTube to see if there’s a lecture about the topic; sometimes, textbook explanations aren’t as effective as when a diagram is being drawn for you.
Personally, I prefer Khan Academy! It’s a non-profit started by Salman Khan to provide “a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.” The organisation produces micro lectures on math, science, history, civics, and finance. If you have been missing out on lectures, or maybe feel like you absorb better by pausing through seminars, then this is the channel for you! Videos can be streamed as well as downloaded for offline access if you download the app.
Khan Academy has cool videos like this one. There are tons of them that cover all different topics!
Minute Physics, CrashCourse, and TED-Ed are channels that provide short videos on straightforward (and random) questions. These are make you think and can help make up topics for essays if you find yourself struggling with that.
2. Reward yourself with treats.
I’m sure I’m not the first to admit that I hate studying, or get readings done. So I give myself incentives to help motivate myself. AFIS has time and again promote the importance of naps; I also like to give myself ten-minute breaks, or a latte from the nearby café.
If your SWOTVAC requires arduous readings, use the Gummy Bear reward system. This entails placing a gummy bear (or your favourite candy) at different places throughout the page; you only get to enjoy them after a certain section or paragraphs.
In this regard, our newly appointed Secretary Sander shows his sense of achievement by screaming at his notes after languishing. Some might call him weird, I reckon it’ll be oddly satisfying. Try it! Not only does letting out tension reduces stress, it also improves your productivity.
3. Dress up to study
This is a weird one, but it's something I’ve indulged with for eight years now, and has personally worked for me.
Not only does feeling good make you happy, it increases your productivity and reduces stress. Stress, as we all probably are right now, kills learning capacity.
I’m not alone here; one Reddit user said wearing a collared shirt and dress pants when he sat down to study helped him be productive.
So put on a cute top or a flattering skirt, and hit the library. You just might surprise yourself!
4. Teach someone.
A great way to test your grasp of knowledge is by teaching someone else what you know; it’s pointless to just be cramming, and memorising without actually comprehending. Teach what you know to someone who struggles with, or has absolutely no background in that subject.
Go through every single point on the specification and EXPLAIN every point on the syllabus, and give a brief description of every single key word (don't explain 'the, and, or' obviously, something like 'live wire' etc.). Think really deeply when you can't think of how to explain something, and refer to your notes if you have to.
After studying all 12-weeks worth of notes, I used to explain what I know – topic by topic – to a friend’s dog (only because nobody else would be willing to listen).
If you can teach them what you know, like a new concept or theory – hell, even an entire chapter – then you’re ready to rock this exam!
5. Essay Editing: Read your essay out loud
Not everybody has final exams; you Arts majors would probably be battling a final essay. And anyone who has gone through the ecstasies and agonies of writing an essay knows the satisfaction of finishing.
Once you’ve done all the work of figuring out what you want to argue, arriving at an interesting thesis, collecting and analysing your research, organising your ideas, and contending counter-arguments… you’d think that you have nothing left to do but run a spell-check, right? WRONG.
What spell-check can’t discern is what real readers think or feel when they read your essay: where they might become confused, annoyed, distracted… or worse, bored.
One way to determine whether your essay sounds OK is to read it out loud. When we labor over sentences or phrases, we can sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture of how all the sentences sound when they’re read one after another – as how the marker will read them. When you read aloud you’ll pick up some problems your eyes missed out.
In reading aloud, keep in mind the story of “The Princess and the Pea”. Quick recap: the story tells of a Princess who was so sensitive she was bothered by a single pea buried beneath the pile of mattresses she lay upon. BE THAT PRINCESS. Be alert to anything that sounds slightly ‘off’ in your essay; if you pick it up, chances are, your marker would too.
Make it fun by reading your essays out in different accents, just like our VP Siru.
Remember: Exams are stressful for EVERYONE.
The most important tip I can give you is to manage your time well, take breaks, and eat healthy. There are 24 hours in a day, and if you use them strategically, you wont have to s
Eat. Sleep. Study. Repeat. Keep your brain and body happy, so will you when you ace those finals! Best of luck :)