Dear 100 Hour Board,
What are your most effective study methods? Flashcards? Study guides?
As a follow up, how do you stay focused? I often find myself "rewarding" myself with a break after I've studied for five minutes.
It depends on the class. For most of my classes, memorization isn't important so I don't do flash cards. Engineering classes typical involve understanding concepts and equations, and knowing how to apply them. So my study methods tend to focus on that.
First suggestion, do whatever your professor suggests. One of my professors bases his tests heavily off of his Power Point slides, while my other professor this semester bases his test off homework and quiz questions. If there's some sort of study guide available I would definitely use that.
For classes without study guides, I make my own study guides. I read through the chapters the test will be covering and make sure I write an explanation for all the major concepts and equations in every chapter. For me, the study guide itself isn't as important as making myself explain the concepts. Explaining the concepts helps me understand them better, and its easier to focus on making a study guide than just studying aimlessly.
After I make my study guide, I like to go through all my old homework and quizzes. There's not enough time to go through all the algebra, but I like to talk myself through the problem and set up how I would solve it.
As far as focusing goes, I take a little 5 minute walk every 45-50 minutes. I also sometimes listen to soft instrumental or electronic music while I'm studying.
Hope this helps!
Dear Smart Cookie,
Every class requires a different kind of studying, I think. However, I have 3 things that I use in nearly every single class, and I think it works pretty well:
1) Coming up with potential test/quiz questions while I read. This helps me remember & comprehend things better, as well as prep for the exam. Of course, you get better at this with practice and as you learn what the professor is looking for, but I think it's probably the most effective study method I have.
2) Taking good, organized, and nicely written notes. I have really good handwriting, so I like to make them a look pretty with different fonts and doodles and such. This allows me to put emphasis on certain concepts discussed in class with an artistic flair, which not only motivates me to pay attention but helps me remember the concepts better.
3) Highlight in my books and take notes on the readings. Again, reading comprehension.
Other than that, Quizlet is AWESOME for memorization based classes. Another time I'll have to tell you about the time I won a national 4-H competition where I had to memorize literally like a thousand different kitchen utensils, spices, and sewing machine parts (among other things.) I can witness that Quizlet is heaven-sent. The new "Learn" feature is really really helpful. I'd suggest making your own Quizlet deck as opposed to searching for a pre-made one, though. Can't trust other people's answers, and typing it out will help you remember it all better.
Some teachers give you study guides that are literally completely useless (*cough* SOC 360) but if you get a study guide, you should definitely use it. I can't think of an instance that not using a study guide would be a good idea.
Study groups may or may not be your jam, but they can (or can not) be really helpful. Again, just depends on the class, but it certainly doesn't hurt to try to organize a group.
I don't know how to encourage you to motivate yourself because that's never been something I struggle with. Since I'm competing to maintain my scholarship, I literally don't have an option but to work my rear off to get them A's. The anxiety of debt and having to pay for school is very good at motivating me to do my best and work hard, that's for sure.
I always like to make my own study guides if the professor doesn't provide one. It gets me anticipating what the main concepts are that the professor is likely to test me on. Other than that, my methods depend on the task.
For memorizing, flash cards. Basically any task that forces me to recall.
For solving problems (such as in math, physics, chemistry, molecular biology, or other stuff like that), practicing the tasks and not just reading up on how to do it.
For writing essays about concepts, I like to talk to write down my thoughts on the topics I may be tested on. It can also be helpful to talk to other people about the subject matter to check for understanding.
For staying motivated, I too need to take decent breaks that are scheduled into my days and weeks. I try to do fun things with my friends and family members and schedule them later in the day so I feel motivated earlier in the day. When I start to notice that I am feeling burned-out, I take it as a sign that I am not doing enough self-care. For me, that means spending time with people I love, making sure I am drinking water, eating good food, going on walks, and getting enough sleep.