Let’s face it: these science classes are no joke. Cramming is often an issue because CBS students often have to juggle a multitude of extracurricular activities simultaneously with their academics. However, we all know cramming is likely not the best approach to getting the grade you want and doesn’t help us retain information in the long run. Hence, it is important that we should explore ways to work/study efficiently (but not necessarily longer). From personal experience, I recommend the following approaches:
1. Be Organized!
At the beginning of each quarter, allot some time to use the given syllabi from classes to fill in your calendar. Write down explicitly all assignment deadlines and examination dates. In addition to being an overview of what your quarter entails, doing this will allow you to prepare mentally for weeks that may be more rigorous than usual.
Now that the quarter schedule is in front of you, the most important step is to plan your studying sessions in advance! Being consistent in sticking with these planned sessions like you would for an actual class and you will reap the awards. Don’t forget to include a session to review all the material you have been studying before any examination.
2. Stay up-to-date
Reviewing your progress every week can let you assess what you have done, but, more importantly, what you have not yet done. Be realistic and flexible in making up missed-work from the previous week.
Staying up-to-date also applies to material covered in class. During lecture, be able to follow along by reading assigned text before. Doing so will take a lot of discipline but will ultimately be rewarding.
3. Use Your Resources
There will be a point when you are confused on a certain subject. Don’t be shy and go seek help! Attend your professor or teaching assistant’s office hours and get clarification. Check out the Student Academic Success Center (http://success.ucdavis.edu/) for tutoring and workshops.
Lastly, your colleagues are sometimes under-utilized as a resource. Get study groups going to quiz each other on the material. A certain topic might cause confusion for you, but your friend might be able to explain it in a way that makes sense. These groups work best when kept small (no more than 4 people).
4. Get in the ZONE!
Rid all distractions. How can one expect to study effectively with the television on, iTunes playing, and Facebook right in front of you? Put your phone away and disconnect yourself from multimedia during your studies. Taking short breaks (say, 5 minutes for every half hour of studying) can keep you sane.
Identify an ideal location to study and don’t settle for a mediocre spot. This location can serve you for many quarters and helps you get in the mood easier each time.
5. CHALLENGE yourself.
Tackle the subjects that you find the most difficult first. Push yourself to look at your notes whenever you can (I like to do this on the bus). Compete with friends to see who can draw the Kreb’s Cycle faster.
These are just some of the basics. For more information, check out the SASC’s study-skills workshops (http://success.ucdavis.edu/study-skills/). Every student can and will find a way that works for them. Know your goals and let them motivate you.
BASC Peer Advisor