As we turn the bend during the second semester of the school year we begin to face challenges. For many of us the material seems insurmountable….maybe we perceive it as such, or maybe teachers realize they are falling short and rush to get all the information in before the school year ends.
Either way, students feel stressed, overwhelmed and many times unable to catch up. So what do you do when you find the material to be TMTH (too much to handle)?
Firstly, realize that you don’t have to learn everything. Remember, the professor can’t test on EVERYTHING. So don’t go at a packet, slide deck or book with the attitude that you have to know everything. Find the Titles, the main point in the paragraph that follows, and any supporting info that seems to buttress the main point. Careful with your use of highlighting if you’re tired and burning out because you’ll start to highlight everything. Which brings us to….
Two heads are better than one. Sometimes three…but more than that may be distracting. What you thought was important in class or on a sheet of information can be confirmed or denied by another student. Moreover everyone has strengths and weaknesses so find one who can compliment you and help you discern what’s important to know.
Rather than guessing, take 15 minutes to meet with the teacher to get an idea of what they find imperative to learn/know for the test. But don’t go into their office asking “will this be on the test?” I would be direct, honest, but humble by asking:
Now, many times the professor will oblige. But if not, you need to indirectly determine what he/she is going to test. This brings us to…..
How was the material given?
If your professor brushed over it quickly in class, it could mean they don’t find it crucial enough to test or ….they don’t completely understand the material themselves. Most likely this will not be tested. However, if he/she brushed over it because it was given in a previous lecture, then its open game.
Demonstrations of the brush over include:
Are they big on testing if you paid attention in class or knowing the information that’s necessary to succeed? Are they a jerk and will pick the most esoteric piece of content from a 1000 word slide or will they focus on main points? Get an idea on what makes them tick.
For some institutions the exam is to test competency. These are the most clear-cut, fair tests and to me, make the most sense. If, for example, in medical school one is studying poor lung function and what a spirometer discerns, the inventor and history of the tool will most likely not be tested. Keep in mind, your professor has bosses and they have bosses, so your competency reflects on them.
For other institutions it may be at the professor’s discretion. So you need to feel out each teacher and see what they’re all about. If they are big on class attendance and will weight the test towards those who showed up, expect questions on content that was highlighted in class. And if they are big on seeing if you paid attention, you will be tested on something they impressed upon you sometime during lecture. So during the lecture watch for the following:
So after you’ve done your “homework,” how do you tackle your studies?
Your time is divisible so grab a calculator and aliquot into equal periods. Make sure you have extra sessions included for breaks and catch up sessions. Or you can use a calendar that is already compartmentalized on which to create your timetable.
Clean your desk!
A nice clean, crisp desk with plenty of pens and highlighters helps energize one more than cluttered paper. Moreover have a second work space you can go to when you get sick of working at your desk.
Now this is easier said than done. Some will put their hardest classes on their study calendar first, some the easiest. There are pros and cons to both. What I suggest is alternating difficult and easy subjects. You need the start of your day and initial power hours knocking out the difficult material, but then the easier classes will boost your confidence and sometimes energy. So one option could be:
Take real breaks!
You should design two types of breaks: Short and Long.
Your short break should be no shorter than 10 minutes. During the break you must do the following:
Your long break should be no shorter than 45 minutes. During these breaks you can:
If you’re “going through the motions” of studying and feel “burnt” you won’t be absorbing the material and subsequently you’ll be wasting precious hours. You must identify burnout by looking for the following:
When studying you’re classwork it’s difficult to avoid the boredom and stress, but the following may help:
Remember, we’ve all been there and school is supposed to be challenging. Stay on course and get help if you need such as a tutor. We all make it to the finish line….even if we’re a little bruised up when we get there.