Studying is a hot topic for many, both those who are currently in college and those who plan on attending college. In my experience with studying, I have found that it isn’t as static as a term as many people think. In fact, to many people’s dismay, there isn’t a correct way to study; it’s different for each person.
My first encounter with “studying” was not pretty. I remember it all too well. It was freshman year of college and my biology professor told us to make sure we studied at least a small amount every night after lecture. Being fresh out of high school with a 4.0 and barely doing any studying, I thought I had studying all figured out. Unfortunately for myself, it caught up to me after receiving my first exam grade back. A few minutes of flipping my scan-tron answer sheet over later, it finally sunk in that I had made a 68. This was nothing like I was used to. I could get by perfectly fine in high school without once having to crack open a textbook. So naturally, I blamed the professor. I approached him after class and asked him if he had given me the correct grade because there must be some mistake, I don’t make 68s. He quickly reassured me that it was indeed my grade, and because it was so low and I was visibly upset by it, I should meet with him during his office hours. Reluctantly, I accepted his offer and met with him the next day. Little did I know, that meeting would be one of the most beneficial meetings I would ever attend.
When I arrived in his office, he told me to take a seat. I panicked. I thought for sure I was in trouble. He obviously saw the unease in my face and told me to relax and that he simply wanted to have an informal conversation with me. After about five minutes of awkward silence following this remark, I finally spoke up. “Is there any way I could make this grade up?” I asked very cautiously. The answer shocked me. “No. . .” That word echoed in my mind over and over until I heard him say, “but I do have a suggestion.” I immediately gave him my full attention, and was on ecstatic to hear of this miracle solution. “Caitlin, I know you’re more than capable of doing well on my exam, but you’re going to have to study.” I was offended. Granted he complimented me, but how dare he suggest that I hadn’t studied. I defiantly stated, “I did study. I read over my notes the night before. I just think your exam was too hard.” Now would be a good time for me to recommend that none of you ever tell a professor that his/her exam is too hard. Seriously, that’s just asking for trouble. He quickly pointed out that several students in my class had made As and Bs, so either they were certifiable geniuses, or that my argument was simply invalid. Once my ego was out of the way, he told me that, though reading through my notes is an acceptable way of studying, I shouldn’t only do it the night before an exam. He also suggested that after each lecture I should read back through the material and write down any questions I have about that section so I can ask them in class.
All in all, this was probably one of the most crucial moments of my time in college. From this point on, I began experimenting with different ways of studying. First, I tried my original method of reading my notes–this time beginning a few days before my exam–no matter how I manipulated it, this method just didn’t seem to work for me. Then I tried holding study sessions, in which I was forced to make and read a study guide aloud to fellow classmates. This method was super beneficial for both myself and my classmates. While I read the study guide, I was teaching my classmates and myself the material. Finally, because hosting study sessions wasn’t always an option, I began making flash cards of the information on my study guides. This method of studying, by far, has been the most successful form of studying for myself.
Though I am still not happy about the 68 I made in Biology 111, I will never regret it. That score alone led me to break out of the academic ego I had acquired in high school, and have one of the most important conversations I have ever had in my college career.
Do any of you struggle with studying? If not, what method works best for you? I would love to know, and if you’re struggling I would to help you out! Leave your comments on the matter below, and if you’d like to read more of my posts feel free to follow my blog. I would appreciate it!