You are all here at LUSEM because you are smart, talented and high-preforming students, but we all know that University studies can be challenging and tough. With many things going on in your life, it’s hard to find a balance that makes it possible to fulfil all the tasks and commitments you are engaged in. Fall semester has just begun and it’s time to step up your study methods. I know it’s not always fun and easy but if you study sufficiently, you will have more spare time to spend on the things you really like. Maybe all you need is some motivation and a few tricks on how to study more efficiently to receive the grades you
deserve and strive for! So welcome back oldies and of course, hello to all new students, here are some tips on how to become a better student, from a fellow student.
- You have all heard it before, but it is worth repeating. Your brain needs to have good preconditions to get the most out of your studies. However boring it may seem, you need to “eat, sleep, train, repeat”. Lack of sleep will affect the part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is tasked with creating long- and short-term memories. Sleep not only gives you the energy to study and perform on exams, but it also helps you with learning, memorization, retention, recall, and problem-solving. Your body and mind need fuel (food) to function. With more energy, the blood flow to your brain increases which helps your brain perform. Doing any type of physical activity before studying helps with transporting oxygen to the brain and will improve your concentration. Physical activities also promote cell growth in the hippocampus and boost your energy.
- When studying, a good tip can be to change your location frequently. It may seem like an unnecessary task, but a change of environment can help you contextualize the things you’re learning. This is called the theory of contextual variation, which presents the phenomenon when learners are exposed to the same concept in two different contexts.
- Remember this, you don’t need to know everything beforehand. It’s okay to get stuck when you don’t understand something, but you can always ask for help. You are not alone, and we are all here for you, students, teachers and friends. Asking for help saves time, minimizes misunderstanding and sometimes all you need to understand specific information is to hear it in a different context.
- The key to learning is remembering, and that is not an easy task. To remember information for a long period of time you need to challenge the forgetting curve. The forgetting curve visualizes the rate at which we forget over time. After seeing the information for the first time you should review the information within 24 hours and then review it regularly over time.
- When studying try to keep away all forms of distractions (including your phone). If you can’t concentrate when you’re around your friends, then maybe you should sit somewhere by yourself for a while. When you’re distracted, the time you have to devote to studying just increases and takes up time from other things. I say quality over quantity.
- I know you have a lot to do but still, try not to multitask. Multitasking has several negative effects on your studying. Learning gets harder and takes up more time when not devoting your full attention to just one task. You will both understand and remember less, and it increases the possibility of mistakes as well as the level of stress and anxiety.
- It is easy to tell yourself you will do the task later, but don’t procrastinate. It can lead to many negative aspects when studying. Not only are you piling up the tasks you have to do but it can have a negative effect on your mental health. When you get a task just do it when the first opportunity comes, you will thank yourself later.
But how should you study then? There are many different study methods, but you need to find what suits you best. Here are some popular methods you should try:
Active recall means that you learn by retrieving information from your brain to find the answer. You start by creating questions regarding the topic, and then test yourself on the questions. By forcing your brain to retrieve the information you ensure that you are actively learning it instead of passively just going through it. The method makes you aware of topics you don’t understand, and for every question you get wrong you return to the material until you can answer the question correctly. How can you use active recall? For instance, create flashcards, write questions as you’re taking notes and do past exams.
Feynman technique means to explain information that is hard to understand as if you were talking to a little child. This means that you simplify the ideas and describe it with clear and easy language. You have to understand it to be able to describe it with other simple words and then review and refine the information you have learnt. If there are still complex words and models left in your notes, go back and try to find a simple way to describe them.
Mind mapping is a visual way of learning by sorting the information in a diagram. You write a word or a topic in the middle of a blank paper. From the center you connect major ideas and keywords and connect them to the central concept. The structure of the mind map relates to how our brain store information. It helps you get a bigger picture of the topic and understand how different concepts are related. You can also use different colors to coordinate the notes and pictures to more easily associate the information.
Pomodoro is a method to beat procrastination and focus during shorter periods. It is a time management method that alternates focus sessions and breaks to sustain concentration. It works by setting a timer for 25 minutes while you focus on one task and when the time is up you enjoy a five-minute break. When you have completed four 25-minute sessions you take a longer 15–30-minute break to restore concentration.
Where you can get help:
- Studiestugan every Tuesday and Thursday between 13-15.
- Study advisors
- Academic skills service
Good luck with your studies and take care of yourself!