By Twila Ternida
As a junior just entering the DP program, I’ve learned a few study techniques that have, so far, helped me succeed. These tips are applicable not only to those in DP, but also to any student willing to make a change in their study habits to achieve success.
Break down large projects
We’ve all experienced that panic — a huge summative project is due in a few days, but we’ve barely begun! The mental breakdowns, the all-nighters, and the less-than-optimal quality work follow immediately.
Avoid this situation entirely by breaking down your projects into smaller, more manageable tasks that can be accomplished over several days.
For instance, instead of cramming 5 hours of essay writing into one all-nighter, complete a portion of the process on each day of the week. This way, you spend only an hour a day on the task, but complete the same amount of work! Ultimately, your work is of higher quality because you’ve allowed yourself time to rest between the process — you aren’t bogged down by exhaustion.
Spread out your studying for exams across a long time period
The same concept of breaking down large assignments follows for exams. Instead of spending 4 hours of studying the night before an exam (which, as you probably know, isn’t always effective), spread out the studying over 3-4 days.
Use one day to create a review sheet, flashcards, or another type of study guide (don’t study your material on the same day that you create the study guide — rest your mind). Then, use the remaining days to review the guide, spending only about 30 minutes to an hour. Not only do you avoid the stress of an all-nighter, you are able to ingrain the information more thoroughly into your head by using constant review over a longer period of time.
Do small assignments the day you get them
Often times, we avoid little tasks because we believe we can accomplish them in a short period of time. But eventually, as we continue to procrastinate, the seemingly small tasks accumulate into a pile of stress looming dangerously in the back of our minds. Overwhelmed, we avoid the mess altogether by binge-watching the latest show on Netflix, procrastinating until necessity requires a painful all-nighter.
Instead of allowing small tasks to stress you out, try to do them the day they are assigned. This way, you’ll reduce the number of tasks that you are doing the day before the deadlines, and they don’t build up and hinder your progress on big assignments.
Ask questions and attend tutorials
Never be afraid to ask your teacher a question to clarify your confusion. Teachers are usually willing to help a student that takes the initiative: it shows that they are humble enough to admit their limitations, and shows that they have the motivation to improve. Attending tutorials is neither shameful nor futile — you build a great relationship with your teacher and have your questions answered as well.
I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped me. For now, enjoy your break!