Summer school success relies on smart tactics, regular study habits
By Andrew Osegi ’14
Texas State University‘s Summer II term has just started, but finals are only a few weeks away. Thousands of students across campus will soon be asking themselves, “Am I ready?”
Test taking can be a challenging obstacle for many students, especially at the college level. Although studying is a skill many of us learned in high school, a number of students fail to fine tune their study skills in college and consequently struggle to prepare for exams. With tests usually accounting for the majority of a student’s final grade in a college class, it’s important to be well prepared for them.
The following are studying tips known to be effective when it comes to knowledge retention. As a junior at Texas State, I have found a few methods that work best for me, and I’ve included those as well. Some may seem like common sense, but all are useful tools for success in the classroom.
Take good notes. Even if teachers provide printouts of their PowerPoints or don’t require you to buy a book, notes help! Notes should be a mixture of textbook facts and objectives the instructor expects you learn.
Sit in the front of class. It’s hard to lose focus on an instructor who’s right in front of you. If sitting in the front row seems uncomfortable, sit in the second row.
Outline notes and highlight later. In your notes, outline major topics, definitions and the instructor’s emphases on particular subjects. I have learned that highlighting with bright yellow and circling or underlining with contrasting colored pencils works wonders for remembering my notes. It’s an especially good tactic if you are a visual learner.
Carefully listen to the teacher. It’s hard to listen to somebody for 50-plus minutes, but be listening for information that is emphasized and that stands out as obvious test material.
Review. Review. Review. From the day you learn about the test, gage your availability and manage your time to schedule periods for studying. Riding the bus, during lunch break or between classes are all great times to squeeze in some lecture notes. Get obligations and distractions over with, then fill any extra time with reviewing your notes.
Read before class. Again, read and review before class to refresh your memory and connect information from one class to the next.
Don’t last-minute cram. Sometimes cramming works, but paced, regular study is a sure bet to learn class material. Don’t push your luck by relying on cramming. You are paying for your classes, so why put off studying and then bomb the test? Study often and regularly for best results.
Don’t do anything out of the ordinary when test day approaches. Continue with your established study routine. Relax and don’t sweat it out all night memorizing notes. Try to lessen the stress of studying in a way that works best for you.
Be a smart test-taker. Utilize the process of elimination. Sometimes answers are hidden in other questions. Be able to recognize when you don’t know the answer to a question. Saying to yourself, “I honestly do not know the answer,” helps you move on with a clear head instead of being discouraged and distracted by a troublesome question.
Lastly, what personally helps me the most is reading the study material out loud. Hearing myself speak helps to refocus my thought process as I study and keeps me on track. After reading, I close all notes and guides, then lecture to myself what I remember. In other words, reciting memorized notes out loud helps tremendously.
Good luck with summer classes!