6 Tips for Effective Studying

William Wallace studying biology

1. Read your notes/chapters to yourself aloud in a foreign accent. I prefer Scottish although it tends to morph into an Irish barmaid as I go down the page. This usually works best when you’re studying alone.

2. Creating acronyms for important theories/categories/names/things-you-will-never-use-in-regular-conversation-with-human-beings-who-were-smart-enough-to-study-something-other-than-what-you’re-studying. However, not plain boring acronyms. Make them inappropriate, offensive or inappropriately offensive. It’s the one time you will talk dirty to a textbook without feeling like a sad human being. I hope.

3. Make up a dance to go along with a theory you need to memorize. Turn on your iPod and recite the theory to yourself while breaking it down in your pajamas. You can make up moves to virtually any process. Cell cycle? Pretend your fingers are chromosomes and spirit-finger the heck out of that anaphase. The movement is good for mental stimulation and it helps you burn off some stress too.


4. Study on a daily basis. No, just kidding. If you try to keep up with the class regularly, it’ll be much easier to hoover the info a few days before…but realistically speaking, this rarely happens. What they forget to tell you is to zone out on a daily basis. Take about 30 minutes to just vegetate, recuperate, doodle, work out. Take a bubble bath. Do anything that has nothing to do with the task at hand.

5. Create rewards for yourself. This is a lot like how they train a dog – if you do the trick, you get the treat. Following the same logic, if you do the chapter, you get the Snickers bar. Or the latest episode of 90210. Whatever floats your boat.

6. Instead of making a schedule just write a list of everything you have to do. The problem with schedules is it’s hard to stick to them – when writing them, we tend to be too optimistic in our ability to finish things. It backfires when you don’t finish all the things you wrote down for that day and it ends up being discouraging. The list however will still give a lovely sense of accomplishment when you scratch a line through something once it’s completed. Do have a general deadline in mind though. It’s not a bucket list. 

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