Hi everyone! My name is Corina Chire and I recently graduated from Macquarie University. My GPA was 3.8 out of 4 so I thought I could share some of my tips to help you with your studies this year!
1. Organize yourself
This is my very first tip, and especially if you tend to procrastinate, then, this is a must! Check the assessment section in all your unit guides and find out when the assignments are due. Write down the dates on a calendar, a planner, your phone or on a visible spot as I did, in a poster on my bedroom wall.
Try to use a different colour per unit and consider how long each assignment it’d take, for example, a week before submitting it. Once it´s done, you’ll have a better picture for what it’s coming.
2. Find out your learning style.
Not everyone learns the same way although some schools nowadays still believe so. We ALL learn in different ways. So far, there are 7 learning styles: visual, verbal, logical, musical, kinaesthetic, intrapersonal and interpersonal. Most people have two or more styles but not many know which ones. Find out if you learn better with pictures, images, colours (visual) or perhaps with spoken and written words (verbal). Maybe you can study with music and add rhythm to what you are learning (musical). Or perhaps you need to move to learn. See if you tend to use your hands or body to learn. Kinaesthetic people tend to ‘act things out’. Finally, do you like to share what you’ve just learned with others? (interpersonal) or do you prefer to work alone using self-study techniques? (intrapersonal). Get to know your learning style and studying will be easier!
3. Highlight your way
You must know that highlighting a text is a common practice when we read and we don’t want to forget the main ideas. But have you tried your own way?
I, myself, chose three colours and assigned meaning to each of them. Pink meant important terms, especially new terminology; green meant important information; and my favourite was the blue one, I used that one to simply highlight what I liked (a quote, an idea I agreed with, a saying, etc.)
4. Give yourself rewards
Studying can be often tiring if you do it non-stop for hours! Try breaking down the time in intervals of perhaps 20 or 30 minutes. And even better, give yourself a reward! It could be food, a drink, a snack, or maybe a 5-minute break to do what you feel like doing.
5. Find a cool spot
Most people may think of the library as the default place to study, but it should not be the only one, especially if you like to change your routine from time to time and make your study time more fun. Explore your uni and find out where else you would like to study, perhaps under a tree? Near a lake? On the grass? An empty classroom? On a sofa? Indoors or outdoors? You choose!
6. Share what you’ve learn with a classmate
And especially if you found out you have the interpersonal learning style! (tip number 2). As the saying goes, ‘to teach is to learn twice’. You’ll notice you’ll have a better understanding of the topic after sharing it with a classmate. You can also try with a friend or a relative. The point is to use your own words to explain what you have just studied. This technique, called paraphrasing, will be very useful when writing uni assignments.
7. Make sure your tummy is full
Actually make sure you’re not hungry, thirsty or sleepy. The reason is quite curious: we need to keep our reptilian brain satisfied! Have you heard about it? It happens that we all human beings have a primitive brain function driven by our ‘reptilian brain’. This is charge of all our body’s vital functions and our instinctive side. If it’s not ‘tamed’, it’ll take you greater effort to concentrate and digest information.
Make sure your emotions are stable too, not too worried, too nervous or too anxious. Take it easy.
8. Eat super foods
When it’s uni time, most of us are just worried about submitting assignments or studying for tests that we just grab fast food or we even sometimes forget to eat.
If you don’t have enough time to eat, that’s fine, as long as you eat properly. And super foods are the best option to give your brain a boost. For example, avocados help you recall information; you can have them before a test – in a sandwich or as guacamole. Blueberries are wonderful for studying. You’ll improve your capacity to store information. You can have it in your breakfast or with a smoothie. Dark chocolate, as well, is full of antioxidants which will increase your brain functions. Eggs and salmon are excellent for your memory. Oh and walnuts will help you concentrate! Take them with you when you go to the library and replace those fatty fast foods with healthy super foods.
9. Get enough sleep
Although that’s perhaps what we do less when we have an exam coming, it is vital that we sleep our 8 hours every night. Lack of sleep can cause tremendous consequences to us and unfortunately recovering sleep is not the solution. Not getting enough sleep can destroy a significant number of neurons and therefore cut synaptic connections. Your attention span can decrease and repetitive poor sleep habits could trigger mental health problems. Keep your sleep time healthy and try to stick to a sleep schedule.
10. Attend you classes and pay attention!
This must be obvious for uni students but it sometimes doesn’t happen. Several times I’ve heard my classmates say that they will skip class and study on their own. However, I’ve heard these same students say next class that they didn’t get anything. Also, I’ve observed that several students who decide to stay in class do whatever else but paying attention. They usually use their laptops or phones to chat, be on social media, play games, etc. My advice? Use those 2 hours or hour and a half to really focus on learning. Forget about social media for a while and just put your phone away.
After sharing 10 top tips for studying, I should admit that during school time and uni time I have almost never really studied for a test. What I did was to pay full attention in class, write down important ideas, discuss them with my friends after class, join study groups and before a test, just really recap.
Hope these tips were helpful! Wish you all the best this coming year!!
Corina Chire Rosas
Master of Applied Linguistics and TESOL