Your teacher or professor has likely given you some kind of syllabus or course outline. It’s essential for you to use it to your advantage if you want to improve your grades or simply work smarter, not harder. Taking charge of your study schedule is going to make a big difference in how you study and in your grades over the course of a semester.
Studying doesn’t have to be a guessing game. You don’t just have to study for exams as they come. Your instructor’s handouts or verbal cues can help you plan ahead. You just have to figure out how to use that information to your advantage to make the best grades possible.
First, consider the curriculum. These are your best friend in a university course. Some high school teachers may provide them as well.. They outline exactly what you’re going to cover over the term as well as when certain reading and writing assignments are due. While your instructor may not stick with the syllabus completely over the term, and adjustments may need to be made, it is still a useful guide to help you create a study plan.
With a syllabus, you can lay out your semester and what you need to read ahead of time in your calendar. Whether you write this down in a physical calendar or put it in a cloud or phone-based calendar or study app, refer to it regularly to know what you need to read or study in the upcoming weeks. Reading ahead and preparing for class that way can help you anticipate the areas that you will need to study more carefully or topics that you will need to ask about in class, tutoring sessions, or office hours.
If your instructor is more of the wing-it type, pay attention to their verbal cues. If they say that you have a test or a big project coming up in a month, start studying for or working on it now. Break the studying and research up into smaller chunks so that it is manageable. Write down which sections you’re going to study or work on which days, and then stick to it.
This can help prevent cramming, which is not a smart idea. Research has shown that studying in shorter intervals of 20 to 50 minutes at a time with a break between sessions of five to 10 minutes is more effective for remembering material over the long term than studying at the last minute, according to the blog of the State University of New York.
Take charge of your own learning by creating a study plan and then using it to guide your review sessions.
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