Get Organized, Study Smarter

By: Melanie Duffy

That dreaded time of the semester is approaching once again: finals week. Students have hastily begun cramming information into their brains, hoping to conquer the many tests that await them come Dec. 12.

Late night library sessions and study groups will definitely be helpful, but the one thing that every student needs to do right now to succeed is get more organized. Organizational methods may differ from person to person, but the following tips can help anyone looking to better prepare for the upcoming weeks.

Before even thinking about getting organized, you must acquire the tools to do so. Planners are lifesavers when it comes to remembering what is due and when, but only if they’re used consistently and properly. Having one planner for school and a separate one for work and other extracurriculars may help students keep tabs on their day-to-day schedule.

However, this can get confusing for some, so figure out what works best for you. Color coding or including dividers may also work effectively to separate activities and keep your planner organized. Make a concerted effort to bring your planner or planners with you whenever you go to class or work so that you can remember to write down important information when it is given. It is not very helpful to wait until after the day is over to write in your planner because you will often forget specific details about what you have to get done.

Another important aspect of organization has to do with your study space. Crowded desks and overpopulated areas on campus serve as major interruptions to adequate studying. Before you begin studying in your dorm, apartment, or house, consider the distractions that may arise.

Set boundaries with roommates and try to be fair about how often you require a silent living space. Try studying in the library or another quiet, private area on campus. You can even rent rooms in the library for you and friends to study together, if you can handle having company. Bring extra chargers, snacks, and water so that you can stay in the library for a while, if need be.

Once your planner is in tip-top shape and you’ve found the perfect study spot, you can start deciding how to split up your time. Devote a few hours each day to making notecards, rewriting notes, and studying key concepts.

Notecards are especially useful for vocabulary-laden science courses or foreign languages, but they can be used for any subject in which memorization is necessary. The benefit of notecards is the fact that they are double sided, so you can test yourself on important information.

Once you get closer to test day, you can simply reread your notes instead of trying to remember everything in one night. Try your best to relax, breathe, and take 10-15 minute breaks while studying. If you are organized and prepared, you will do your best and ace the test!