The dawn of every September brings the back to school frenzy, and with it a slew of students making resolutions to study better, longer, and more efficiently. It’s enough to rival New Year’s Eve, but as grandiose as some of those aspirations may seem, it is possible to create effective study habits without chaining yourself to your desk.
“Discipline is more important than motivation,” says Conrad Crockett, an acupuncturist and longtime instructor at Pacific Rim College. “Even when I didn’t feel like studying, I stuck to a schedule. Usually by the time I started, I enjoyed it. It was more about the momentum of getting started, so creating a schedule and sticking to it was key.”
Creating an exclusive study area was another key, he says. Make sure wherever you study is free from clutter and distractions, and comfy enough that you can spend a few hours there if necessary, without putting a crick in your back. And avoid distractions.
“Social media is the biggest culprit here,” adds Crockett. “I made rules for myself to only check after I accomplished certain milestones, otherwise I would get sucked into the Facebook void.”
When it comes to learning the material itself, it’s all about repetition.
“Typing notes, summarizing them by hand, speaking them out loud, explaining them to someone else, and teaching them to other people helps consolidate information and put it into your own words,” says Crockett.
A study buddy can be indispensable, says Rachel Mark, a fellow acupuncturist and a recent grad of Pacific Rim College.
“Having someone to test each other with lets you talk it out, and really checks what you know and what you don’t,” she says. “The best time to test each other is a day or two before the exam. Then you have enough time to learn things before, and enough time to go over what you don’t know. Too close to the test will just be stressful!”
And while you’re hanging out with your study buddy, why not make a pit stop at your favourite house of beans?
“Coffee!” exclaims Mark. “Having just enough coffee gets you alert enough to learn, but too much is a recipe for jitters and disaster.”
And when all is said and done, if your notes start blurring and you can hear yourself blinking, put down the highlighter.
“You can’t learn more if you’re run down and over tired,” adds Mark. “Getting a few hours of sleep the night before will only help.”