Catching Some Zzzzzzzzzzzzzs Will Likely Help You Net A’s and B’s

We have all heard the expression, “Get a good night’s sleep.” While this might be sound medical advice, it is also excellent academic advice. Studies have shown that students who consistently get a good night’s sleep can remember almost 20% more on tests of newly learned information than students who don’t.

Not only is regular sleep beneficial for cognition, but cat naps can also be helpful. Numerous studies have shown that even a 10-minute nap can enhance energy and concentration.

The Mishaps of Memory

How many times have you begun an exam thinking, “I’ve got
this!” and ended it muttering, “Maybe it’s not too late to drop the class…”?

Such calamities occur because of our metamemory—or how we think about our memory. In general, people are not very good at evaluating their own ability to memorize information. So essentially, we are overconfident and we think that we have
memorized information sufficiently when we really have not.

The best way to overcome this typical human error is quiz yourself on the meaning of the concepts, their relation to other concepts, and their overall context. When you start to quiz yourself like this, only then can you ascertain whether or not you have truly encoded the information.

 

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Leave Time for Assignments!

We’ve all done it. We’ve all pulled the all-nighter where we started a project that was due the next day the evening before.

To prevent yet another scenario where you are cursing into your fifth cup of coffee at three in the morning, break the project down into smaller steps.

Write the final due date on your calendar, and working backward, fill in the appropriate dates for the small steps, including dates for finding research materials, writing first drafts, revising second drafts, etc. A little planning will save you a lot of time and will make those all-nighters needless!

 

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Skim Please! And We’re Not Talking about Milk…

Before every lecture, it’s good to know what you’re getting
into. That is why skimming the relevant chapters before class can be very
helpful to become acquainted with the material even before the professor
discusses it. After the lecture, go back and read the material more closely
with the aim of trying to understand, as opposed to simply reading through
words.

A 24-Hour Review Makes Information Stick Like Glue!

Did you know that reviewing new material within the first 24
hours of learning it helps you increase your retention of that knowledge by
60%?

So while it may be tempting to close your notebook after class and let it
collect dust, you’ll be doing your brain a world of good by reviewing your
notes pronto.

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Enduring the Final Flurry

The collegiate equivalent of Judgment Day is here: finals.

Getting through them, however, doesn’t have to feel like divine punishment.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to make the process more bearable. Some
students spend equal amounts of time preparing for each final. Instead, proportion
your study time to how difficult the final is likely to be and how well you
have mastered the material.

Another important tip is to be clear about is what materials are going to be on the final. Are text readings included, or is the final going to focus entirely on lecture material? Will it be comprehensive or cumulative final? Knowing the range—and the limits—of the final will make it easier to organize and structure your study time. Taking time to employ these tips may very well be your saving grace!

 

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Countdown to Crisis: Time Management in a Crunch

So you’ve got a 20-page paper on the 2008 financial crisis due in a couple of weeks. But you’ve got a crisis of your own: You actually haven’t even started the paper yet.

Before having a meltdown, turn your bust into a boom. There are tried and true steps you can take to get back on track if procrastination plagues you.

  1. In the short amount of time you have left, set realistic goals, and don’t demand perfection from yourself.
  2. Only work on your project when your energy levels are at their highest.
  3. Break larger tasks into smaller ones—this will keep you from getting overwhelmed.
  4. Work for realistic amounts of time. Do not attempt to finish the project within a three hour time window if you know you are the kind of person who can only work for one hour at a time.
  5. Budget extra time in your schedule for unexpected hiccups in your project.
  6. Start now. The longer you put it off, the more anxious it will make you.

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Take the Terror Out of Your Term Paper

So you’ve been given the horrifying assignment of writing about Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. If you’re like most people, simply the idea of writing is far more frightening than phantoms floating in the night. However, there are steps you can take to make the process less spine chilling.

  • Get to know your professor. Professors are people, not demons.  They want your success as much as you do. The trick is to get to know what they want. Meet with your professor during office hours to get guidance on parameters and ideas. The sooner you start this process, the better.
  • Get the big picture. Once you know what your parameters are, find out generalities on your topic. In this case, you might want to do research on gothic fiction. Where does Jackson’s book fit it? Can you compare it to other works of gothic fiction? How does it compare to other 20th-century literature? Are there any themes or patterns that emerge from your research?
  • Make an outline. Once you have some basic ideas, outline them. This will help you determine areas that need more research.
  • Keep track of your sources. As you gather your research, fill out your outline with notes. Be sure to note your information sources in your outline so you know what and where to cite for your reference list.
  • Integrate lecture notes. Are there any ideas or themes from your class lecture slides you can incorporate into your paper? If not, that’s fine. But if you do, weave them into your paper in the appropriate places; your professor will feel like she got through to someone.
  • Tie it all together. Does your introduction provide a good “roadmap” for where the paper is going? Do your paragraphs have good transitions? Does your conclusion sum up your main points succinctly and cogently?

At the end of the day, you can tame the spirits and specters of worry about paper writing. If you start early and put in effort, you’ll likely do great!

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Make Short Work of Your Long Term Projects

Long term assignments can challenge even the most poised project planners. The trick is to take control early.

Here is a plan to show you how:

  1. Break down your behemoth undertaking into three to four major tasks.
  2. Each of these tasks should then be broken down into clearly-defined small steps.
  3. Once you’ve identified these small steps, determine how long it will take to complete each one.
  4. Look at the project deadline, and working back from there, figure out the deadline for each small step.
  5. In your daily planner (You do have a daily planner, don’t you?), write down the details of what you need to do next for the deadline (What books do you have to read by then? How many pages need to be written by then?).
  6. Relish the feeling as you check off each completed deadline.
  7. Ideally, budget your time so you finish the project at least two days before the deadline. This way, you can make edits or address any unforeseen issues.
  8. Sleep restfully, knowing that you have a plan and it’s all under control!

 

 

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Take Control and Conquer Your Coursework

The start of every semester brings a new set of projects and deadlines. Here are some tips to help you take charge so you can ace whatever comes your way!

  • Get into the thrill of the syllabus. Okay. So syllabi don’t exactly qualify as beach reading. BUT, they are one of the best ways to know EXACTLY what sort of assignments and deadlines you are up against. They indicate precisely what your professor wants from you and when.
  • Tame the time management Cyclops. Syllabi are a helpful first step to time management. Not only is it helpful to read your syllabi, but it’s also a good idea take critical deadlines from them and enter them into a daily planner (you do have one, right?). When you do this for all of your classes, all of your deadlines are in one centralized place. Once you can see where your deadlines fall in relation to one another, you’ll get a sense of how much time you need to devote to each project.
  • Adopt a Routine. While most of us have every intention of executing our to-do list, quite often, at the end of most days, we realize we haven’t made much progress at all. We often cannot control what happens in the middle of our day, but we have some say as to how we start and end our days. Try doing your most important tasks first thing in the morning or right before you go to bed. Once you make this a habit, you won’t have to decide whether to do a critical task first thing in the morning—you’ll just do it because it is part of your routine.

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Time Management Tip: Online Time-Sucks

You sit down at your laptop with every intention of prepping for your biology exam tomorrow. Hold on. OMG. You get a text from your BFF and you just have to respond because you forgot to update your Facebook status. Better change that ASAP! AND there’s the Grey’s Anatomy episode on Hulu that you still need to watch, so you can Skype with your friend from back home about it.  So…wait, where were we? Oh, right. Bio exam.

Let’s face it—while the online world can be an amazing source of information and entertainment, it can also be a titanic time-suck with no end in sight. Time that could be spent studying from “Gray’s Anatomy” gets squandered on the fun, but irrelevant, medical drama of the same name. But how do you get yourself to focus on membranes instead of Meredith? Fortunately, there are apps out there that can help you do just that by limiting the amount of time you spend on websites. The options are numerous; just do an online search using key phrases such as “internet time limit” or “internet time restrictions” or visit the itunes Store or Android Marketplace.

Here are some suggested products to try, based on student recommendations:

  • RescueTime and Time Doctor: Apps designed to help you track your time to see where you are wasting it.
  • Anti-Social, Self-Control, and Freedom: Apps which either block all of the known online time wasters (like Facebook, Twitter, etc.) or block all online activity for a set period of time.
  • StayFocused: A free app on Google Chrome, which restricts the amount of time you can spend on time wasting activities.

For more study strategies, take a workshop at The Study: (www.loyola.edu/department/thestudy/studyskills/workshops)

 

 

Time Management Tip: Your Paper Does Not Have Ten Heads. Really.

We’ve all done it. We’ve all taken that big assignment, turned it into a multi-headed hydra, and convinced ourselves that the whole thing is hopeless— even before we’ve started.

The trick is to just start, even if it’s just to work on it for 10 minutes a day. Oftentimes, when you actually begin a task, you realize that it’s not as bad as you thought.  And if it is as bad as you thought (hey, it happens), don’t hesitate to contact your professor to get more direction. That’s what they’re there for!

 

For more time management tips, take a workshop at The Study.(www.loyola.edu/department/thestudy/studyskills/workshops)

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