Through trial and error, junior finetunes her studying methods

April 24, 2021 — by Kaasha Minocha

Some successful strategies include  studying in segments and changing your scenery

As a freshman, I was often seen rolled up in my bed binge-watching “Gilmore Girls.” Unfortunately, my self-control wasn’t the best and one episode led me to another, resulting in a waste of hours that could have been productive studying time. And with finals rolling around the corner in December, I procrastinated my studying more and more. 

One tip I recommend is to space out your studying. Yes, I have crammed three hours of studying the day before the test, and no, it did not end well. Simply put, freshman year taught me to study for each exam at least four to five days in advance to ensure that I maximize my retention and understanding of the material.

Another trick I learned this year is to study in shorter segments (20-25 minutes) and then take a 5-10 minute break in between as a reward. In my sophomore year, I would create these ambitious schedules of several hours of studying (often six or seven on a weekend days), leading me to feel burned out and exhausted. Taking breaks ensures that you don’t fry your brain or doze off. 

Along with studying in short chunks, I’ve learned to change my scenery and reset my brain in advance. When I was studying for the SAT, I found that working out and taking my dog for a walk before taking practice tests dramatically improved my scores. The reason: I was relaxed.

Another key lesson I’ve learned through hard experience is to put distractions away. When I got my first phone in seventh grade, it lured me away from what I should have been doing. Over time, I learned to leave my phone outside my room. You could also try stowing away your phone in a lock box — some even have timers on them — so you cannot open it (of course, this extreme measure is probably the hardest one to put into to practice). 

Additionally, eating well and drinking regularly while studying pays big dividends. In the second semester of my freshman year, I began to have a banana and nuts before a test, and I was surprised by the results. With having Chemistry Honors during seventh period, I found the snacks made me more attentive and increased my focus on this difficult material. 

Finally, listening to your favorite music before an exam can help pump you up and reduce anxiety. Some of my favorite tunes are “Not Afraid” by Eminem and “Glory” by John Legend. 

Most importantly, I’ve learned to be a little kinder to myself. Junior year in quarantine has taught me that sometimes you just try your best and let the results fall where they may. Freshman me probably had heard some of these ideas, but it took three years of high school to show me how vital they are to academic success.