I think the hardest part about studying is finding the motivation to actually sit down and do it. It is tricky to find the right motivation, but I want to share the things that worked for me.
For me the motivation to study comes easy. I am always thinking about the future and planning ahead. I plan when to study and eat and see my friends. So, I know that in order to get where I need to be I have to make good grades. So, I am always motivated to study. Also, I get so much satisfaction from doing my best on a test. I am my own worst critic. I never think anything I do is good enough so I am always striving to be better.
The second hardest thing is finding your study spot. However, your campus should provide plenty of places for you to study comfortably. For me, the library was always a great spot because I feel more motivated around other people who are studying as well.
All throughout high school, teachers have probably tried to teach everyone the same way. They stand up at the front and lecture and expect you to take notes. They expect everyone to be able to learn the same way. That is simply not true. If you struggled in high school it is more likely that you learn a different way than that you are stupid. I believe everyone can be successful if they find a way that works for them.
So typically people are four types of learners; visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or reading/writing. For me, I learn the best when I do all four of these things. Typically, I study by using visual, auditory, and writing tools all at once. I have found that this is the way I learn best.
If I am struggling to understand a topic, especially in chemistry, I will get on YouTube and watch Crash Course videos or Khan Academy. Sometimes I will take notes from these videos or just watch and listen.
All of your professor’s you have in college will all be very brilliant. However, this doesn’t mean they will be a good teacher. Some are fantastic, while others are not. My professor for intro biology was a not so great teacher. So, I had to rely on myself to teach myself the material. I watched every video on cell respiration and photosynthesis. I took notes on top of notes and used every resource available to me. When I studied for that class I would go topic by topic and write down everything I knew about it. I would go through vocabulary words and be sure I knew everyone of them.
For me, studying by trying to teach the subject matter was what helped me the most in biology. The concepts were very in depth and required you to be able to connect two ideas together. So, after watching a video or going through my notes, I would stand at my white board and pretend I was teaching the material I had just learned. So, that is one studying technique I used.
However, for math and chemistry I would study a little differently. My Chem two professor was similar to my biology professor so I taught myself a majority of the subject matter. A big tip for studying for math or chemistry, DO NOT START STUDYING THE NIGHT BEFORE. That is definitely not a challenge. I will tell you why in a second. So the way to study for these subjects is honestly by doing a bunch of practice problems. So, if you need to watch videos or get out tools to help you visualize the problems make sure you do that as well. So, a couple of days before a test I would start at the beginning of the chapter/s and go through each concept and do the practice problem that is worked out in the chapter. Don’t just copy it down. Try to complete the next step before looking at the answers. After I made it through the whole book I would try to complete at least one practice problem of each kind of problem (usually odd numbered ones because they have answers in the back of the book). That is why I suggest starting a couple days before because you are going to be doing a lot of problems and many of them will take more than a couple minutes. Personally, I can’t study really late or for a really long period of time. Also, pulling all nighters honestly hurts you more than it helps so I definitely do not suggest that either.
My other study habits are making notecards for the classes that are more memorization and less critical thinking. If you put a visuals with the notecard that can also help with remembering. I also rewrote my notes. I took notes on my tablet so each day before class I would rewrite my notes and that helped me store information from the lectures and helped me be able to study less later.
Whatever study technique you choose be sure that it helps you store the information for good. You are at college to learn skills you will use for your career, remember that. Also, if you retain the information throughout the year, studying for finals will be much easier and less stressful.
I hope these tips were helpful and that you find a technique that works for you!