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A new semester has crept up on all of us college students, and the smell of overpriced text-books and coffee are in the air. This is my second year as a full-time student, and let me tell you, I’ve learned a few things about how to succeed (and fail) when it comes to studying and getting work done. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to study smarter (notice how I didn’t say harder) and to not cram for my exams. Although I’ve been doing pretty well with my weekend cramming and all-nighters, the stress and anxiety that comes with this is enough to make me want to change my ways.

So I am going to share what I’ve learned over these last three semesters, and how you can study smarter and improve your grades. Maybe this is your first year of college, or you already have several semesters behind you. Or maybe you’re a highschooler trying to prepare for college (way to go!). Wherever you’re at, hopefully these tips will help you too.

1. Get Ahead 

The only way to beat procrastination is to do the exact opposite. Getting ahead helps to cut down on all of the anxiety that can trigger even more procrastination. Before classes even start, try to find the class syllabus to see if you can prepare yourself. It’s also a good idea to do any required reading before the lecture, and get a head start on papers way before they are due.

2. Make it a Daily Thing

Don’t cram. I know, everyone says that; but that’s because it’s not the most efficient way to study. I don’t care if you say that’s how you study best. I used to say this too– and it isn’t even about that (a little cramming is not bad); the reason you should study everyday is to break up the work and relieve the stress. When you’re overwhelmed and stressed out, the anxiety can keep you from ever hitting the books– until the night before that is.

Even though you may not think you have time to study everyday, just 15-30 minutes of focus being devoted to each class can make a huge difference. Your brain can absorb the material much better this way. Once exam week rolls around you can increase your time intervals. Breaking up studying into chunks like this makes it way easier to focus.

3. Don’t Be a Copy Cat 

Although your best friend might have aced her exam by reading the text-book five times, that is not necessarily the best method for you. Everyone is different; some people are note takers, while others would benefit from a tape recorder or just listening to the instructor. You have to find what works for you, and the only way to do this is to try different learning/study methods.

4. Find Your Environment

Again, this is something that will be different for everyone. I study better when I’m not at home. There’s just too many distractions for me. I prefer to be at my college’s library, study lounge, or local cafe. However, you might like working at home. Other things to think about are music, snacks, and whether you do better studying in a group or solo. A good environment that’s free of distractions (um…YouTube) can make all the difference in the world.

There you have it! My best tips for studying/working on assignments. I’ve decided that I’m ready for this semester, and I’m already planning out how I will study for each class. Hope this helps you all! And if you have any other study tips, please comment below 🙂

Love, Emily <3