Study hacks: How to Crush It in your First Year, Without Studying Too Hard

The second-semester is nigh and our motivation to grind through another 5 months worth of routine is seriously lacking. In that way, the second semester is almost like the beginning of both a new academic and calendar year as we shed our old selves through half-thought out resolutions and plan changes that will never be made. Luckily, unlike your failed resolve, it’s pretty easy to hack your first year or first semester abroad by following these 7 study hacks:

Study for exams in groups

There’s no better measure of what you know than when you can teach it. If you’re able to explain your knowledge to others then chances are, you’ve mastered the subject. Studying in small discussion groups a couple of days before your exams is a more durable way of cementing what you’ve learned and deepening your understanding of the subject matter. By discussing the topics beforehand you can get a better idea of what you still need to brush up on as well as what points seem to be the most important ones.

creating study guides with friends

Focus instead of cramming

Chunking is the well-known art of dividing tasks into manageable steps. Also known as basic time management, it’s an essential step towards not feeling overwhelmed during your first year. Unlike other study hacks, chunking can be applied to anything. Instead of overviewing the material 2 days before your exam, reread your lecture notes at the end of each week. It’s scientifically proven that slowly building up your knowledge base makes it more reliable than when you cram all that information in. Do Pomodoro style focus sessions where you take breaks often to give yourself time to assimilate all that information.

Cheat sheets

Creating a cheat sheet or study guide with a summary of essential information is going to save you the trouble and time of leafing through the same powerpoints. It’s a study hack that’s best done by hand–you tend to remember more if you’ve written the information out instead of typing it. Bonus points if you team up with a couple of friends and divvy up the work!

Get the e-version of the book

Instead of buying the paperback version of your book why not buy the digital one! With a digital book, you can easily look for keywords and search through the chapters. Having the digital version makes it that much easier to bookmark and annotate sections that you deem important.

reading study hacks on laptop

Short cut study hacks

In a history class with too much material, a literature class with too many books or you just don’t get a concept? Use the internet! More specifically, watch documentaries about historical subjects you don’t have time to read about. You can also read detailed cliffsnotes or sparknotes summaries of books you don’t have time to read. Finally, turn to the endless supply of youtube tutorials for concepts you don’t quite get the handle of.

Use your phone!

Our phones can be pretty powerful distractions but they can also be wonderful tools. Using the wealth of apps that are available to hack your study productivity is a self-evident path to success. The best ones like Pomodoro timer or focus can really help you manage your time efficiently.

Be healthy

Have a good sleep schedule, exercise regularly and feed your brain with healthy food. These don’t seem like study hacks but believe me they’re going to be the secret to long-lasting success. Exercising before studying is shown to boost your memory! The key to breezing by your classes without studying too hard is to be relaxed.

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