Classes have ended for the year — for Saint Rose undergraduate students, that is. For many grad students, school continues through the summer — along with family commitments and work. How do they fit it all in?
We asked some of our grad students for their best practices for studying, including do’s and don’t’s learned through experience. As one of them, Jesse Hoobler, points out, everyone has a different learning style and every student should find the habits that work best for him or her.
Here are some pointers from him and others:
Akporode Esha G’19, business analytics
I try as much as possible to review what has been taught in the last class prior to the next lecture. This helps me better understand the material. It also allows me to seriously focus on each assignment and project I have to work on and prepare better for exams. Also, YouTube videos have been helpful to me. Ask your professor to recommend specific videos, as there are helpful ones as well as misleading ones out there.
I have found that there is definitely a positive correlation between studying and results. The more time you invest in studying what you’ve been taught, the better your result.
Jesse Hoobler ’04, G’06, G’20, MBA
Low tech is sometimes the best tech. Distractions kill my ability to focus on reading, studying and prepping homework for grad school. Although I have to be “connected” for work and family, I find myself having to turn off notifications, or simply be away from technology, in order to focus deeply on the subject. Sometimes that’s harder than it sounds (when your textbook is on your iPad or you need your computer to review the PowerPoint slides), but there are ways to minimize and silence the distractions of pinging emails, texts, and posts. Being able to focus and think deeply helps me retain information and identify themes when I am studying.
Does highlighting help? I used to constantly highlight sections of text while I was studying a subject, but then I realized I never used those highlighted sections again – why did I even do that in the first place? My suggestion would be to think about what you’re doing as you study and really analyze whether it’s providing a beneficial outcome (e.g. “is highlighting really helping me retain more information or learn the subject better?”).
Identifying how you study and analyzing if the actions you take are delivering better outcomes is something everyone should do regularly; it can help all of us be more effective with the time we spend studying (there is a great book to help you learn about your personal productivity style by Carson Tate called “Work Simply” that I would strongly recommend).
Chunk it! I used to try to study in large blocks of time, for example spending two to three hours the day before a test to read and prepare. I found that, about an hour into the session, my mental energy was drained and I was prone to finding a distraction, for instance, by looking at social media or email. It made my study time inefficient and wasted time.
Now, I “chunk” a few study sessions of no more than an hour over a few consecutive days before the test. For example, if the test is on Monday, I’ll study for 45 minutes on Thursday, an hour on Saturday morning before my kids wake up, and do a final one-hour study session on Sunday evening so the subject and content are fresh in my mind. I’m not spending any more time than before, but breaking up the time like this allows me to retain the information better, maintain a stronger focus, and often times helps me think more deeply about the subject since my brain has more time to process the material over a longer timespan.
Princess Rallins G’20, clinical mental health counseling
My advice for studying effectively and efficiently is reading the material each week and writing my own notes, as well as listening to the professors and writing down what they were saying. I am a visual learner, and writing really helps me.
I studied wrong during my first semester: When chapters were really long I would just push through and not really comprehend what I was reading, so it was a waste of time. Now, I take my time and read a few pages per day and take notes. I guess it wasn’t “too wrong” (lol!) because I still got an A in the classes! But it was a bit frustrating.
I usually study for about an hour each night before I go to bed, and give myself Sunday as my day of rest (unless I procrastinate – then I have to use my rest day as a work day [lol!]).
In order to study most effectively, I discovered that I have to re-write my notes from class and the assigned readings multiple times. I learn best when I repeatedly study the information, and just by reading a chapter before the exam proved ineffective for me. I also found that hand writing my notes was the most effective way to commit the information to memory. Yes, typing does go by a lot quicker, but by physically writing the words down it forced me to concentrate on what I was replicating.
I would recommend starting to study for an exam at least three days before. When I was younger, I was definitely in the habit of procrastinating studying until the night before. Not only was it harder for me to commit the information to memory, but it was hard to recall what I learned once the exam passed. When I got into a routine of not only appropriately studying but starting days before a test, I found myself less stressed, more prepared, and more knowledgeable on the topic as time passed.
Brianna Zhong G’20, MBA
I used to be the type of student who would wait until the last minute to study. I would cram everything in one night and it would leave me feeling stressed and forgetting a lot of information I learned. I am now persistent when it comes to studying and planning ahead. Rather than cramming everything in one night, I study every day and in moderation; I get much better grades and am always successful when it comes to remembering what I learned.
Definitely, procrastination has been my main issue, especially with online discussion posts (I’ve been taking classes that are offered only online for my program). In addition, I would start way too late, and I wouldn’t work to my full potential.
So, this year, I have to do four discussion posts a week because I am taking two online classes. I start writing on Monday and try to do just one a day. It makes studying 10 times easier.
Derek Lyman G’20, communication sciences and disorders
The biggest thing for me would be probably time management, like not waiting for important meetings with professors, or waiting until the last moment to do a paper. This semester, I have been putting different reminders on my phone and on Canvas, and trying to start assignments earlier.
Courtney McDowell G’21, communication sciences and disorders
Last year, I procrastinated a lot, so I had to do a lot of things last minute. This semester I am trying to plan out my papers and assignments to see if I can get them done in a better manner.
Max Dresser G’19, accounting
Last semester, I had a poor study regimen. I crammed most of my studying into the last three weeks rather than spreading it out throughout the semester, which naturally led to increased stress, increased anxiety and the like. So, starting this semester I’ve written down more notes and looked them over, especially when I am doing homework.
Aswathy Rajan G’21, communication sciences and disorders
This semester, I am learning to do things a little ahead of time. While I am able to do things at the last minute, I feel like it’s not really healthy in the long run because it just adds stress for no reason. I am trying to find the discipline to do things ahead of time.
Miss our previous posts on studying effectively? Check out more student tips http://blogs.strose.edu/studying-effectively-student-tips-part-1/
as well as more tips for students who are both going to school while working here. Have a study tip you’d like to share? Send it to us!