An always in-progress list of resources, guides and study tips from fellow learners and educators:
Study guide including general tips, common study techniques, and some memorization techniques. Prepared by Torsten Bernhardt, Department of Biology, 2015.
(taken from T-PULSE Advanced Learning Workshop, 2016)
Useful to-do lists:
- Write lists including everything you have accomplished.
- Keep track of how many things you have done.
- The little things count because they take time!
Organizing your schedule:
- Organize your weekly schedule and include everything!
- All your classes (lectures, labs, tutorials)
- Volunteering, club activities, sports commitments
- Food times (meals, cooking)
- Homework and study times
- Errands: grocery shopping, bank trip, commuting
- Break down your schedule into big commitments (classes, sleeping and eating, homework, down time) and more flexible commitments (exercise, errands, social activities).
- Consider using the Cornell Note-taking System.
- The average speech rate is 2-3 words/second while the average handwriting rate is 0.2-0.3 words/second. Pick the 10% that matters most when taking notes during class!
- Attention span in adults usually lasts about 20 minutes (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2011). Reset yourself by stretching, drinking water, or refocusing using a mental task.
- After 2 weeks, we tend to remember 10% of what we read and 20% of what we hear, but we remember 70% of what we say and 90% of what we say and do (Edgar Dale, 1969).
- Practice using peer instruction to ensure that you understand something well enough to explain it simply.
- Engage in deep learning by making connections and relating the content you are learning.
- “How do I feel about this?”
- “This reminds me of…”
- “This is similar to…”
Preparing for new content:
- Familiarize yourself with the topic!
- Wikipedia, Google Scholar, Youtube
- Talk to your classmates and friends
- Learn the more complex material.
- Go over the slides
- Access your book and reading material
- Visit the McGill Library for peer-reviewed articles
Mix up your studying method!
- Independently: review class notes, read supporting documents, do any homework or practice problems
- With a partner: do short answer questions, peer-review assignments, discuss homework and practice problems
- In groups: have discussions about lecture content, teach and share, play games or do practice tests
Should you pull an all-nighter?
- After not sleeping for 24 hours, brain cognitive function is similar to having a blood alcohol level of 0.1% (International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health).
- This leads to impairment of motor coordination, loss of good judgment and impaired reaction time – and can translate into more errors and lost marks.
- Get a good night’s rest before exams!
- Caffeine may increase alertness, but also increases anxiety by raising cortisol, the “stress hormone”.
- Health Canada (2016) suggests that a moderate caffeine intake of 400 mg/day is okay for the average adult.
- 400 mg of caffeine is about 3 cups of brewed coffee or 13 cups of green tea or 10 cans of Coca-Cola or 40 chocolate brownies.
- Avoid consuming too much caffeine before an exam!
Keep a positive attitude!
- Positivity, happiness and success are related – we can change our brains (Emmons & Cullough 2003).
- Tell yourself that you can do it!
Re-focusing your studying
You were supposed to study and you didn’t because…
- You weren’t feeling well
- You won concert tickets
- The Habs were playing
- You watched a movie
- It took a really long time to finish an assignment
- You didn’t feel like it
- Your friend visited for the weekend
Get back on track by…
- Make a new schedule/plan
- Start with simple and short tasks – break time periods into minutes or half-hours
- Keep track of your progress – use “To Do” and “Done” lists
- Take breaks, self-care and have fun