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  • Hiba Awais

Finding the Right Study Strategy

With final exams lurking around the corner, I’m sure we’re all desperate to finish this semester strong (preferably with our sanity intact). Though it’s admirable, I’m trying to avoid resorting to the “Kay Chung study method” and optimize my study time over the next two weeks. To motivate myself, I decided to experiment with different study habits to see what works best. 

Everyone has their personal preferences and habits that work for them, whether that be rereading notes, drawing diagrams, or even sleeping with lecture videos playing in the background (I’ve tried this and no I didn’t retain the content through osmosis). I had my friends send me their game-changing study habits and tried them out last week to see if they improved my study sessions. Here is my breakdown and the pros and cons for each method I tested out.

  1. The Assignment Ranking Method

I figured I’d start by describing my go-to study method, which I made up. I write down all of the assignments/studying I want to get done and rank them based on priority and how annoying they are. Then I rearrange the list so every other task is something difficult/annoying and prioritize the tasks with upcoming due dates. This works well for me because it’s harder to procrastinate when each difficult task is followed up by an easy one. I think it also plays on gratification because it’s nice to see all of the tasks laid out and knock them off the to-do list one by one.

2. Playing the Long Game

A friend mentioned taking notes throughout the semester and making them into a Quizlet. Before college, I firmly believed in the art of last-minute cramming. This past year though, I’ve taken notes during lectures and made them into flashcards at the end of each week. This makes life a lot easier during exam time because you already have the tools to succeed in your back pocket. Personally, I don’t like Quizlet because it’s hard for me to focus on regular flashcards and their other study tools require a subscription. I use Brainscape instead, which has flashcards and a ranking system that prioritizes the terms you understand the least.


3. Recording a Time-Lapse

Many people live by this method, so I had to try it out and see for myself. I see the appeal, since you’re recording you feel obligated to be productive (like someone’s watching you). Although, I did feel awkward in public and barely had enough storage to keep the time-lapse going for over an hour. I think this strategy is most effective for completing tedious work because it forces you to stay on task and prevents you from using your phone. 

4. Listening to Movie Soundtracks

I enjoyed trying out this method because I believe the key to productivity is the right background music. I think the success of this method depends on your ability to multitask, but it works well because you feel like the main character and therefore obligated to study. My lock-in movie soundtrack is Corpse Bride (which is one of my favorite movies) because of the Halloween vibes and nostalgia. This study habit enhances the overall study experience by making it fun and helping you focus.

5. Getting Dressed Up to Study

I usually study in my pajamas or sweats, so I was intrigued to see whether dressing nice would make a difference. It definitely improves productivity because it helps you feel less lazy. It also helps to study in a public place (like the library) since being surrounded by people who are studying makes you want to do the same. 

I encourage you to test out different study strategies to find out what works best for you. Sometimes, just trying something new and refreshing is enough to boost your productivity (placebo effect)! There are two weeks left until finals, so let’s make them count! 


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