As the start of the fall semester at CBNU is just around the corner, perhaps a few SMART study tips would be helpful to share with the readers of the Globe English Magazine.
S = Schedule study time
Studying for any subject is a necessary part of learning. Whatever major you are in, studying before and after class is a must. From experience, as well as from other resources I have read online, scheduling a specific time to sit down, undistracted, focused, with goals set, leads to better academic success for students. Many of you are first or second year students, still adjusting to the freedoms that come with being a university student. You can do what you want when you want. Wonderful!! But when it comes to test time, what do you do? CRAM!! That is not an effective way to attain academic success.
M = Measurable method
Studying should be done at regularly set times during the week and includes reviewing for tests, learning new vocabulary, working on a project, reading chapters in books to prepare for upcoming lectures, and more academic related activities. Sometimes you can have a study group, where you have written notes and you test each other on the information. Other times, you study on your own. Each individual student has their own effective way of studying, developed over years of middle and high school education.
A good suggestion is to have just ONE calendar or planner, whichever method you're most comfortable using, in which to schedule your study time. Consistency in a routine is important. In your planner, write down all your specific tasks in a "to do" list, on a weekly basis, with the time blocked off for when you plan to do each task. This makes your task measurable. As your week progresses and your tasks get done, you can check them off.
The goals you set must be specific and measurable. What does that mean? Specific means looking at all the studying you need to do for each of your classes then prioritizing just one or two things you can do during your set study time (could be one or two hours).
Measurable means something you can measure. For example, you could say, “My first goal for this study session is to read one chapter for this class, and take notes. My second goal is to review the vocabulary that we learned yesterday for this class and make sure I understand how to use the vocabulary.” These are specific and measurable goals.
A = Attitude towards activity
Activity is not limited to studying. Studying is simply an active part of your college life. Equally important to studying, as mentioned earlier, is prioritizing and scheduling. First, it’s necessary to determine when, where and how much time you want to give to a task. Next, stick to the plan. It is very easy to give up scheduled study time to go watch a movie with friends. You think you can do it later. That is called “procrastination,” postponing doing something to a more convenient time instead of when you have “scheduled,” to do it.
The more you procrastinate, the more chaotic, stressful, and hectic your life will become. Carving out shorter study periods into your schedule allows you to separate your study sessions throughout the day and week at school. It is equally important to schedule sleep, meals, and exercise (7-8 hours nightly sleep is recommended for adults) into a regular routine.
Another kind of activity is your attitude and thinking towards failure and study. You have control over your thinking, how you see yourself. If you say, “I can’t…,” right there, you are limiting what you can do. You could say instead, “It may be challenging, but I will make a way.” If you remain positive in thinking about how you will benefit from making time to study regularly and making it a habit while at university, most likely, you will succeed in achieving your goals. Furthermore, if something is difficult to understand, please reach out to your senior classmates, your professors or other mentors, for a clearer explanation of a concept or problem, or clarification of a question you may have. Remember, you are not alone!
Scientific research has shown that students, who receive seven to eight hours of sleep, especially during test time, who study regularly throughout the semester, as opposed to cramming right before exams and pulling all-nighters, overall achieve higher academic results. See this article to learn more about the positive effects of more rest. During test time, when casually surveyed or questioned about how many hours my students slept the night before their exam, the answers I received were usually less than five hours of sleep!
To sum up this article on SMART studying, we have the big T word. We all have control over our own time, 24 hours each day. We know what is most important to us as individuals, what our life goals are, and how doing well at university will help us land good positions in respectable companies. So, if you choose to set scheduled study times, find a comfortable, relatively quiet place to focus on your specific and measurable study goals, turn off your cell phone to avoid being distracted by friends’ messages or calls —- you are doing it for yourself, for your future. That is good and praiseworthy.
Finally, comparing yourself to others is not advisable. You are not someone else. You are you. Do what you know is best for you to do in order to achieve what you want for your life. Your mind is a powerful tool. Use it!!