College is a huge adjustment from high school in many respects, including academics. Even the stellar high school student who graduated with a 4.0 GPA will likely be challenged (and maybe even struggle) when it comes to certain courses in university. It’s a huge step that requires major planning, because college is a whole new ball game!
I would love to share with you the study method that took my very average freshman year GPA to a 3.97 Valedictorian GPA at graduate school. Seriously! As I progressed through my academic career, here’s what I learned: How you prepare is just as important as your innate intelligence. (I have no other explanation for my academic transformation!)
There’s nothing worse than walking out of a classroom with a pit in your stomach, thinking to yourself that you just bombed an exam. This study method is designed to avoid that by helping you become supremely confident as you enter the exam zone.
- Know your audience. In college, your audience is the professor who will be grading you. Many college students fear their professors and hesitate to seek help when needed. Don’t be that way. They’ll appreciate your visit.
It’s important to know the relative importance of lecture content versus assigned readings. Professors vary widely in this area. Many focus their exams on lecture content (almost to the point where you wonder why you did your readings!) while others focus on the book (making you wonder why you bothered attending class!). It also pays to talk with other students who previously had that professor, to get their input. There’s no substitute for having the “inside scoop.”
- Take detailed notes. I experienced a rude awakening after bombing my first Cultural Anthropology exam. I never expected the professor to test in such detail. Unfortunately, until you take your first exam from each professor, you really don’t know how detailed the test questions will be. I learned my lesson the hard way and radically changed my note taking to become excruciatingly detailed. I ran through more notebook paper that way, but rarely missed a question on account of detail!
- Highlight while you read. One of the secret ingredients of my study method is the generous use of highlighters, so much so that I call my approach the “rainbow highlighter method.” As you read your textbook, start with a yellow highlighter and highlight everything you feel is important that you would probably not remember after just one reading. Don’t bother highlighting a sentence or point if you’re confident that you understand it and can recall it on an exam. After your first pass, you might have as much as half a page highlighted, but that’s okay.
- Complete all assigned reading four days before the test date. This will enable you to spend the ensuing time reviewing your material and preparing for the test. No last minute cramming allowed!
Confidence is king! If you utilize this study method throughout your academic career, you’ll enter your exams feeling supremely prepared. Not only will your confidence soar, but I’ll bet your grades will too! And, you needn’t wait till college to use it.
Stay tuned for next week, when I will share part two of my study tips. There will be two more steps that are a part of the process to achieve ultimate studying efficiency and success.
How would you describe your study method? Are you able to efficiently prepare for multiple exams in a short period of time? Do you have any winning study tips?
If you are a parent or a teacher, share this post with the young people in your life—their grades and confidence will benefit immensely!