When it comes to exams, are you in the habit of leaving everything until the final day for a last-minute dash through your textbooks? Do you cram your head with factoids, planning to walk into the examination room and perform a memory dump? The good news is that you are not a lost cause -- after all, some
students do not study at all, last minute or otherwise.
The bad news is that you are unlikely getting the most out of your education (granted, that may not strike many of you as bad news!) and you are causing yourself needless stress (granted, many of you may pride yourselves on working optimally under pressure!).
We will not be naive enough to think that a simple article will turn your study habits around 180 degrees to the point where you are canceling dinner dates and skipping Friday-night parties in order to stay home and study. We will, however, offer a few practical, realistic suggestions for improving your study habits so that you are getting things done and reducing the amount of stress that can fly your way.
The first suggestion arises from the observation that there are many wasted time slots throughout your day. An example of a wasted time slot would be the journey home on the bus, assuming you are a commuter. Further examples of wasted time slots would be the hour you spend waiting for the dentist, the hour you spend standing around at the field doing nothing while waiting for your favorite spectator sport to commence, and the hour you spend looking at your watch until you finally figure out that your date for the night has stood you up.
These wasted time slots could be put to good study use. They will all add up to a considerable amount of time, so much so that you will probably run out of stuff to study before you can say goodbye to thumb-twiddling and foot-tapping for good. Often these time slots are so monumentally boring that even that
thick textbook on molecular biology may prove interesting enough to pass the time.
The second suggestion arises from the observation that you easily do whatever you find enjoyable. After all, there probably never will be such a thing as the last-minute pizza pig-out or the last-minute purchase of the latest album from your favorite band.
Surely there is something enjoyable about what you are studying. If you are in college, you picked your course for a reason, assuming you are not one of those creepy kids trying to live up to the stringent expectations of your parents. Why did you choose to study whatever it is you are studying? What drew you in? Reawaken that curiosity, that spark of interest. If you can succeed in making the pursuit of knowledge an enjoyable end in itself, then there is absolutely nothing that can fail to hold your interest.
The third and final suggestion arises from the observation that it is easy to study your material when you are trying to impress someone by doing so. Maybe you have your eyes set on an attractive classmate who seems to be fully into the material.
The beauty of the Internet is that many course modules have a Web site that has not only lecture notes and so forth but also an interactive forum where students can discuss course material among themselves, ask questions, share answers, and generally keep one another motivated. You probably can guess where
this is leading, but we did tell you that our stress-busting advice for exams and study would be practical and realistic! Look, just dump all your IM contacts, hit the books, and get to that forum not a moment too soon -- you have a potential date to woo with your incisive insights on the gastrointestinal diseases prevalent in 16th-century Europe.