It doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman, a super-senior, or a part-time student who takes college courses. One thing remains the same: preparing for an exam is stressful. Almost every student has their pre-exam ritual, whether it involves pulling an all-nighter so you can cram the night before, or making a several-week-long schedule filled with tedious practice quizzes. The truth of the matter is that, whether they know it or not, every student has one or two bad study habits. Some students know they need to break their bad habits, while others aren’t even aware that they’re hurting their GPA. Here are some of the few most common bad habits and how to break them.
Studying with Friends
Everyone likes to take classes with their buddies so they can walk to class together, sit next to each other, and maybe even share materials. Plus, it’s nice to have someone to get any missed work for you. One thing you and your pals shouldn’t do together, though, is study for a big exam. Studying in groups makes it too easy to lose focus, which means a lot of time gets wasted. If you’re going to set aside study hours, you want to make sure you’re making the most of them!
The fix: Know that it’s okay to tell your friends you’d rather study on your own. You can also try a one-on-one study session with a partner, but if it doesn’t seem to be effective, then politely tell them you focus better when studying solo.
Studying at Home
Hunkering down for a long study sesh in your dorm or apartment seems like the logical thing to do. You’ve got everything you need, including snacks and music. However, when you’re too comfortable in your study environment, it’s too easy to get distracted. Maybe your roommate’s watching TV and you can’t stop listening to it, or your video games are calling your name, or you can hear people outside your window having fun. Even worse — if your chair gets uncomfortable, you think that maybe you could just study in your bed for a little while, which is sure to put you right to sleep.
The fix: One possible solution is to try a local coffee shop, the school’s computer lab, or the library. Since you took the time going somewhere specifically to study, it might be easier to get in the right mindset. Plus, you won’t have your own belongings to distract you. Some people prefer to turn their rooms into the perfect study zone, which is also a good idea. Get some noise-cancelling headphones so you can play classical music, sip some tea, get a comfortable cushion for your chair, and wear your favorite sweats to get in “study mode.”
It seems like every student says it at some point: “I can’t come out tonight, I have to cram for a big test tomorrow.” Cramming has become so widespread at colleges that no one gives it a second thought. Sadly, you’ll never retain as much information from cramming as you would if you worked on a slow-and-steady study schedule. There’s no sense in depriving yourself of sleep and letting your body run on caffeine just to have to take a test the next day.
The fix: Always plan ahead and be prepared to turn down tempting offers. Especially if you’ve got multiple exams in the same week, time management is key. You know when your free blocks of time are — often, they’re at night — so for the two to three weeks leading up to midterms or finals, make yourself a schedule. Write down precisely what material you’ll study and on what days, and stick to it. Unfortunately, that means you might not to get to go to that big party or have movie night with your boyfriend or girlfriend, but it’s only for a few weeks.