How to Study Like a Pro

Coming into college as a first-year student, I thought I had my studying strategies down to a tee. After being in school for a few weeks, I quickly realized that was not the case. DePaul is on the quarter system, which means that professors have to teach their class in a shorter amount of time. This also means that as students, we have less time to learn and retain said information. Being the psychology student who is very interested in the mind and how it works, I deemed it only necessary to conduct some research on how to study more efficiently. I wrote down a list and began experimenting until I found some techniques that worked well for my classes and my learning habits. Here are some of my favorite studying tips!

Know Yourself

I know this doesn’t sound like a studying tip, but I promise it is one of the most important first steps. Before you can retain information, you have to figure out how you process it best. I realized in high school that my brain responds well to visual stimuli and I can learn new concepts much easier when they’re written in fun colors and accompanied by pictures. There are several tests online that can help you determine what kind of learner you are. Once you have this figured out, use that information to your advantage and cater your note-taking and studying around it.

Consider the Pomodoro Technique

For a lot of people, myself included, time is not a luxury we can often enjoy. We’re constantly racing to learn as much information as quickly as we can to meet deadlines and finish assignments. The reason why I like to use this technique is because it puts time back in your control. In a nutshell, the Pomodoro Technique is when you set a timer for 25 minutes and concentrate on only one task for that entire time. After the timer goes off, you can take a 5-minute break and then reset it. It sounds very simple, but time after time it’s been proven very effective. I would recommend that you play around with the time intervals until you find one that suits your needs. Personally, I like to set a 45-minute timer and then take a 15-minute break!

Spaced Repetition

The whole point of this strategy is to work smarter not harder. When we learn something, it isn’t stored in a single location but is instantly scattered across various regions in your brain. Spaced repetition is simple, but highly effective because it deliberately hacks the way your brain works. It forces learning to be effortful, and like muscles, the brain responds to that stimulus by strengthening the connections between nerve cells. By spacing the intervals out, you’re further exercising these connections each time. There are lots of good websites that allow you to make flashcards online and they separate the information you know best from the ones you need more practice with.

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