Let’s be honest, most of us have already calculated what grade we have to get on the next test to pass the class. Keep chins up and blood pressures low: This week’s Campus Cope covers what you will need, from best study habits to how to grade-grub, to get that grade.
Best study habits
If you like to listen to music while studying, try to pick a playlist without vocals. Lyrics are distracting, especially when you need to memorize something. Even if classical music is not your taste, it doesn’t hurt to give it a try.
When going over notes, it’s helpful to highlight and write side notes if it’s a reading passage or put symbols (no doodles — those can get distracting) next to the important topics. If you’re still not feeling super-confident afterward, consider a notecard and jot down the absolutely important topics so in the mornings, on your way to class or literally walking from Lot 30, you can review the notes as a last-minute studying tactic.
It’s a good idea to bring a light snack. Keep it healthy — fruit or granola bars — when you’re studying so hunger is the last of your worries. Chewing or eating helps some people concentrate and even just drinking cold water can help you stay awake and make you feel not so bored despite how lifeless the subject may be.
For location, you should choose a place that makes you feel comfortable. There is a difference between sitting in your favorite chair with books sprawled out and snuggling in your bed with warm tea and lullaby music on. An ideal location would be somewhere quiet and not too hot or too cold, like the library or your room.
Sometimes it helps you study when you explain the material to someone else, but choose your study buddies wisely. As much as you want to spend time with a best friend, save them for the celebration and seek out students who want to get that grade.
Grade grubbing is the process of constantly seeking out professors or TAs to keep meticulous track of your grades. Grade grubbing is a serious art. It requires diligence and consistency. It may sound important because it actually is, especially to students who want to keep track of their academics. Do you have the symptoms of grade grubbing?
If you wait for your professor after everyone disperses after class to ask them about your grade multiple times a week you may fit in that category. If you go to office hours despite having a good grip on the material just to reinforce to your TA that you are a good student, it’s also likely you suffer from grade grubbing. Be wary that this isn’t a sure-fire method to excellent grades. It is actually a double-edged sword.
You don’t want to annoy teachers and antagonize them. Bombarding professors with requests or further inquires about a 10-point assignment will only make it worse — professors are veterans at weeding out brown-nosers from stressed students.
However, grade grubbing can be the last resort to make it out by the skin of your teeth (insert war flashbacks for those who barely made it out of language courses). Maybe don’t wait for professors after every class like their daytime stalker, but try to go to office hours, so they do see you are trying to make an effort. Having good rapport with a TA or professor is better than not having one at all: They will remember your name when doing final grades, and hopefully do it with a smile rather than a scowl.
What not to do:
Nobody wants their study time going to waste. Something you should definitely avoid when you really need to focus and get that grade is TV or any form of entertainment. Temptation is the worst weapon … 20 minutes after a laptop opens, somehow you end up on Tumblr.
If your excuse to be on the computer is an essay (with the occasional Internet tab switch to the highlights of the latest “Walking Dead” episode), there are a number of ways to hold back the urge. If your willpower is less than that score on the last test, try Keepmeout.com. Just type in your go-to site, put in how long you want to devote to your studies, and it will literally block out that site for that amount of time. “I don’t need it … I don’t need …” you may mutter, as your cursor shakes over the Facebook tab. You may also try the “Stay Focused” features available on on Internet search engines. Increasing productivity, it will block time-wasting sites and allow certain pages to only be seen.
Don’t listen to your musical jams. It’ll be hard to concentrate on that essay when you’re distracted and tempted to sing along (or even dance to it) but feel free to celebrate after acing that test.
Don’t attempt to multitask. Just don’t. It most likely will not go well for either task you try to do, so consider focusing on your studies first so you can make the most of it.
Don’t cram — really. Cramming has been scientifically proven to not help students retain material. Students who cram actually did poorer than those who studied on a consistent basis throughout the quarter. Cramming is a half-brained defense mechanism that helps students believe they actually studied extensively.
Pace your studying. Unlike cramming, pacing your studying will help your mind take in comfortable amounts of information at each interval and you will retain the information easier with smaller doses.