For those who do not know me, I am currently a full-time college student and have been for the last 4 years. I am studying Audiology and Speech Language Pathology. I am in my last semester of college and throughout the years I have gotten so many questions on how I achieve my grades. No, I don’t study all the time. I do put a lot of time into my studying, but that does not necessarily mean I sit in my room all day studying. I have a social life, work part time, continue my healthy lifestyle through fitness, in a relationship, and also very involved with many events on campus. I want to share how I manage to get good grades, which in large comes from my exams. So I am finally sitting down to share my tips on studying for big exams.

Plan & Set Goals: So depending on the course I have an upcoming exam in, I make sure to start studying accordingly, dependent on the actual course. If I am studying for a course in my major, I try to start studying a week before. If we are talking about a general education course, that might not have material that is as difficult, I will start studying 2 -3 days before. Remember this is totally dependent on you! If you are a quick learner you might be able to get away studying late.

This is all about setting goals for yourself and making a goal for each day. Make sure the goals for each day are reasonable, don’t try to take on too much you can’t handle. This will just have you skipping through the information just to get through it, instead of actually learning it.

I first look over how much material is on the exam I am studying for. I look at how many notes and resources I need to get through and plan from there. If I have 10 chapters to get through for the exam, I will probably learn 2 chapters a day and make sure I know them in and out. Then I might leave the last 2 days just for review and practice questions.

Study with the test taker in mind: Depending on the type of course you are taking, you might have an idea of how the professor is going to test you. Sometimes, they might even tell you if you ask! Are the questions going to be multiple choice? Are there going to be open-ended questions? Are the questions going to be conceptual or more up front? I keep the test taker in mind while studying the material. I constantly question “is this a good test question?” So while studying the material, question the material on weather it could be a good test question. Most professors will test you on information that they think is essential and important, so again, keep this in mind while studying the material.  If you have taken the same professor in the past, use this to your advantage. This works to my benefit, because I have seen how they tested before, and can sometimes predict their test style.

Cover all resources: I cannot stress this enough. If your professor lectured 10 chapters and you study 7 hoping she doesn’t test you on the other 3, you will less likely do well. Everything the professor lectured is fair game, therefore, you should know all the material. For this reason I study all my notes. If the professor mentions it during lecture that they will take some test questions out of the book, I will take sure to read the chapter. It is important to cover your resources, even if you’re just reading through a chapter. On test day, if you are asked a question about what you read, you will more likely know it and remember it, if you actually took the time to read it.

Learn for the long run & ask questions: I am a victim of memorizing material the day before test day, especially in courses that do not apply to my major. I highly recommend not just going over material but LEARNING it if it involves your field, because it will probably show up again. If it is going to help you be better at your job, why would you not want to learn it? If you actually learn it, you won’t forget it so easy. Lastly make sure you leave time at the end of your studying days for questions. If you need to ask a classmate or even the professor, make sure you get all your questions in!

Biggest Struggles in college

I remember people would always tell me “enjoy these years because they go quick,” and wow they were right. It feels like yesterday I was moving into my first college dorm room with my two best friends trying to figure out how we were going to decorate. I am now going into my senior year and I am so sad it is coming to an end. After 3 years at a university that is 2 and a half hours away from home, I have learned so much about myself and life. I have grown into a totally different person from when I first came! College has been full of laughs, friends, memories, and tears. Here are my biggest struggles in college.

  • Distractions: I had to start with this one and I have a feeling you knew it was coming! The experience of college at a university is different when you are actually living on the campus, I have to say. I am actually giggling right now thinking about all the late nights with my friends when I had class the next morning, the worst mornings. Living in a college town on the weekends can give you temptations to skip out on studying and doing school work when everyone around you is pregaming for the party tonight. In the beginning, it is so hard to watch everyone go out and have fun while you stay in and study. I have to admit it does not get easier. Although, I will say college is about balance. There is nothing wrong with going out and having the college experience because these days are priceless! But my advice to you is to know when is it simply your time to stay in and hit the books. There will always be another party, late night pizza run, or game night. If you have an exam coming up, be smart and choose not to sacrifice your grades for a little fun. Tution is too expensive to waste!
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle: It can be difficult to eat healthy, get rest, and work out on a college student schedule. Some semesters I barely had time to eat, yet alone go to the gym. This is OKAY. But my advice is to try your best. I can remember from previous semesters being in classes, working, and studying until 10pm. After a long day I just wanted to rest but instead I forced myself to stop at the rec on my way home and get in a quick workout. Working out can help you more than just physically but mentally too.
  • Trying to be perfect: This might not be the case for everyone but for people in my discipline they understand the struggle (future speech pathologist). I remember getting my first bad grade on a test and just walking out the classroom feeling like it was the end of the world. After 3 years of several failures I have to say it really is not the end of the world. My professor once told me, “one bad grade is not going to make or break your career, no grades will determine how good or bad of a Speech-Language Pathologist you will be.”
  • Procrastination: We all do this, I do not care how good of a student you are. Procrastination will be your.worst.enemy. Get a calendar and plan accordingly, or at least try too! I try to do my assignments ahead of time so I can manage it all. I got into the habit of getting things done early right at the start, and that made such a difference during the rest of the semester! This is something I can not stress enough. It will save you a lot of headache later if you just start early.

Being a college student can be so hard sometimes, but when it is all over it will be worth it. I can not count how many times me and my friends have joked about dropping out and asking why life had to be so hard. I think what gets us through it is the idea of walking across that stage. So when you are struggling, remember it will all be worth it.