How I learned to Study

There I was at 8:00PM on a Tuesday, taking the first exam of my college career. “It’s chemistry, you memorized everything, you got this,” these words became a montra for me in the days prior to the exam. I breezed through the test and came out feeling super confident of all of my answers. “Has to be a 85-90% no doubt,” I told my dad as we drove home.

Later that night, the exam answers came out. Checking the key with my sheet, I started crying. I got half of the multiple choice incorrect and I started to doubt my short responses. In conclusion, I got a D.

So, where did I go wrong?

First things first, I studied wrong 100%. Memorizing facts is an amazing skill to have; but when you have to apply your thinking further, those facts are useless. Second, I was really cocky and filled with what I call “false confidence.” I don’t recall checking over my exam in depth before turning it in. I also announced my score before even seeing it, which created a narrative of success in my head that led to disappointment later on.

But the biggest factor that contributed to my failure? Not asking for help. I was provided a plethora of resources and utilized none.

But worry not my friend, I did succeed in the end. It started with a plan for change and I’m here to help you. These plans have gotten me through so many classes.

1.ACTIVLY Rewrite Your Notes:

I don’t mean run on a treadmill and study (I saw this at the gym once, very interesting). Instead, something that I started to do is talk to myself. As I go through my notes, I pretend that I am just hearing of these concepts. As I go through the topics, I am organizing my notes. Sometimes, I stop and review and then continue with the new information. This really helps to make connections. If possible, include questions or even practice problems. Physics, I would go step by step and reason with my equations. How did I derive this? What happens if he gives me radians, or centimeters?

2. Make A Commitment To Studying:

Being in college, there are so many opportunities. Know what you can and can’t handle within a semester. What is your course load? Being Pre-[insert career here] there are milestones to which you want to reach. For example, I wanted to shadow for as long as I could remember. But honestly, my 5 day a week schedule and I were not cooperating. I finally had the opportunity this past semester and it was unbelievable but within what I could do.

Also, it is okay to say “no.” For me, my close friends left for college and we only get together every so often. But even then, there have been times when I said no. If I have a major test or quiz, they understand and cheer me on (Alexa, play “Real Friends,” by Kanye West). Or if I do go out to an event or party, I try to leave early to accommodate for my drive (Broward to Miami life).

3. Ask For Help:

If you are reading this, you are probably from DEM. Understand that your friends really do have your back. I’ve had amazing friends who have given me notes from prior classes they have taken. I even got to study with some of them in groups and the amount of idea bouncing and connections I made were unbelievable.

At FIU, we have resources that can help you. Most of my classes have Learning Assistants. These students did not just pass the class with sheer guessing, they knew what was going on. Attend their Learning Hours. I would attend my LA’s office hour once a week, even if I knew the topic. I also made it a habit of getting their numbers (most of the time they are super cool about this). If I needed help, I would text them my question.

Also, actively participate in class with your professor. First of all, they get to know the students that are really trying. For Physics, my professor knew me by name and he would read my facial expressions in class to gage whether or not the class and I understood concepts. This helped because he literally would review if I looked lost which he took as everyone was lost.

4. Take Care of Yourself:

Easier said than done. For me, there would be days where I would study, sleep for like 3 hours and then go to class. First of all, this was not healthy at all and my attention span was that of a fish on those days. This really affected me at home too. I would come home and just knock out for 3-4 hours to make up for my lack of sleep. Sleep is our body telling us to reset, so please listen to it. For me, I play my favorite podcast, set a sleep timer, and get whisked away with a story.

Exercise is also the best thing for yourself. Stretching, running, or even at home workouts are great. I personally love Pamela Reif Youtube videos. Twenty minutes of full body workouts have helped me think, increased my appetite for healthy foods, and more so made me love my body. There are so many benefits!

5. TEST DAY:

Look, it is okay to go into a test with confidence. However, it is one thing to feel confident and another to be super cocky with it. I remember people who literally went in and came out saying “OMG THAT WAS SOOO EASY!.” But remember, not everyone feels that way. For me personally, I tend to say “I don’t know, we’ll see,” instead of “For sure a B.” Reason being, attaching this false ideal and not seeing that result really causes a disappointment. Be your best self, but be reasonable.