By Emily Doucette
Special to The Guardian
Now that the holidays are over, it's time to hit the books. Exams are fast approaching and you don't want to be left unprepared. In case you're not sure where to start, here are a few study tips to help you get on the right path.
First thing's first — don't procrastinate. It seems easy enough, but on top of work, friends, school and extracurricular activities, studying tends to be forgotten about until it's too late. Make sure you prepare quiet time alone, or with a study partner, to go over your notes ahead of time. By the time most people start worrying about studying, you will be halfway through what you need to know.
Take a break. It makes a lot of sense to sit down and read over your notes for hours, but you have to take breaks to take your mind off studying. Flip through your phone, listen to music, watch a TV show, anything that distracts you from what you were doing. When you go back to it, you will see your notes with a fresh mind.
Make notes that you understand. This is so important. There's no reasoning behind memorizing a fact that you can't make heads or tails of. If you can't apply it, then you don't know it. Learn it in your own words before you worry about regurgitating someone else's.
Ask questions if you don’t understand. Believe it or not, your teachers want you to succeed. They’re there to teach you, and to help you learn. If there’s an idea that you’re just not getting, let them know. They will take their time to explain it until you understand.
Know what's important. It's so easy to study the simple stuff, but when it comes time to sit down and focus, you want to put more energy on what you need to know, instead of what's easy to remember.
Organize your study tools. Find a clean space to work where you can arrange all your material in a way that makes sense to you. Remember, highlighters are your best friends. Colour-coding your subjects and notes makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.
Don’t forget to eat. Food gives you the energy and sugars that you need to keep your mind sharp, and yourself healthy.
Sleep. This sounds obvious, but it has to be said. Staying up to finish that unit won’t do you any good if you don’t retain it. Sleeping refreshes your mind and body, and makes everything seem clearer. Think of it as turning a computer off and on again when it’s too slow.
Figure out what works for you. Some people can study for weeks and end up with a 40 per cent whereas others will wing it on the same test and receive an 80 per cent. Following someone else’s guidelines can be useful, but you need to know how you learn. If you need music, put together a playlist. If you need flash cards, get a friend to quiz you. Everyone is different, and everyone learns differently. The most important thing is that you’re comfortable, and not stressed. Good luck!
Emily Doucette is a Grade 12 Bluefield High School student, who is completing a co-op placement with The Guardian.