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4 Tips for Creating Effective Study Habits

Now that semester one is coming to a close, heaps of exams, essays, and projects are upon us in one violent swoon. Ideally, you’ve begun some revision over winter break. If so, bravo to you! If not, never fear. It’s not too late to develop an effective study schedule for upcoming deadlines.

  1. Create a Visual Calendar

I don’t know about you, but I’m all about lists, calendars, and visually laying out my chores. During exams, I write down what I need to do daily, weekly, and monthly. I keep a large calendar above my desk, in which I pencil in deadlines. Both there and in my journal, I write down my main priorities for each day. Make flash cards to memorise biology vocab? Find 15 primary resources for an essay? Sketch the outline of your final painting? Check, check, and check.

Write down everything you can, no matter how minute. Having things visually planned by hand organises your thoughts, creating tangible goals. Each day, you’ll feel better having crossed something of your list, and you’ll feel more prepared as the deadline itself approaches.

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  1. Set Long- and Short-Term Goals

Like above, try to identify both big and small goals. Obviously, you want to “do well” on your exams, but how can you turn that abstract thought into actionable parts?

Let’s take my upcoming essay as an example. My long-term goals are to complete the paper and earn the mark I desire. Duh. Short-term, I need to research the topic, create an outline, write a first draft, and edit, edit, edit.

I recommend making your goals as specific as possible. This ensures that you know exactly what you need to accomplish, so you won’t waste time dilly-dallying in vagueness. Make yourself find at least 12 sources for your essay, read through your monologue 30 times, or make flashcards over every term in Chapter 4 of your geology textbook.

Fit these goals into your calendar, and cross them off as you go to see how you progress!

  1. Work with Others

This one may seem a bit counter-intuitive, but bear with me. While study groups can be a nuisance to coordinate, and often seem to breed distraction, working with others can help hold you accountable for your revision.

Voice your goals and study schedule to a peer, and have them do the same. Check in with them daily, weekly, or whatever feels right, and share what you’ve both accomplished in that time. You’ll both feel more inclined to do the work if you know someone is there to oversee you.

Additionally, your peers are full of knowledge that you could use. Don’t understand a concept from lecture? Stuck on a certain clause in your essay prompt? Stressed and terrified and need someone to vent to? That’s what friends are for.

Ask – and answer – questions whenever you can. Picking the brains of your peers not only fills in your own knowledge gaps, but allows you to verbally articulate your studies to them. This helps you memorise and understand the content for yourself, which is super valuable in itself!

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  1. Ask for Help

This last tip is one that’s difficult but necessary, and I am one to know. Deadlines are overwhelming, and it’s common to feel alone, incompetent, or trailing behind. If you find yourself struggling during deadlines, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

Email and meet with your professor if you need further explanations. Ask your classmates to schedule a study session, and take advantage of their company to make sure you’re all on the same wavelength. Call your parents, friends, or health professionals if your stress breaches mere academics, and you find yourself drowning in anxiety and nerves.

Remember – winter deadlines are hard to tackle, but you’re not the only one enduring. Rain or shine, Manchester is buzzing with students just as frazzled as you. But with proper preparation, goal-setting, and support, you’ll develop study skills to make 2018 your best exam period yet!