Useful study tips for students

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‘Cause nobody wants to get overwhelmed and flunk out

[2A]AllanHall

Biology? No thanks./Allan Hall

Author: Neil Middlemiss

Whether you’ve got work due or you need a break, every student wishes they had more time.

Sadly, time machines and speed-of-light travel seem about as distant now as they did 100 years ago. Still, technology can help you make the most of the time you do have, and this is especially true for students. Whatever your goal, there are electronic tools to help you get there.

Notes

A couple of years ago, I got tired of flipping through pages of notes. I couldn’t find a margin note if I didn’t know exactly where it was. I also like to re-read, modify, and compliment my notes with later research, and this was cumbersome with paper: either I’d have several sheets with way too much blank space or several sheets with nowhere near enough space. I needed more flexibility.

Then, I took my notes online. Even if I handwrite my notes, I transcribe them to Evernote afterwards. This has the benefit of memorization through repetition, but also lets you search your notes and, most importantly for me, study them no matter where I am via my phone and modify them however I see fit. You can also compliment Evernote by using Skitch: a PDF markup and image-editing tool.

Also, Evernote saves automatically on a regular interval, so you don’t risk losing your notes. This is also true for Google Docs or even a Microsoft Office document saved on the University’s shared drive (available on campus computers).

Papers

Writing your paper can be a painful experience. For me, the most frustrating part of the process is going through my citations and references, which always seems to happen in the last hour before a paper is due.

Why stress yourself out when Zotero can manage your citations for you? Zotero allows you to easily build a library of relevant documents from which it pulls key details like date, author, title, etc. It also integrates with Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, and LibreOffice, so you can very easily add your footnotes and endnotes or export a bibliography.

Studying

The biggest difference makers for me have been the flashcard tools that I’ve started using. Too lazy to make hundreds of flashcards for myself, I was happy to discover that, in most cases, someone has already done my work for me.

These tools are especially useful for memorizing lots of details, such as vocabulary lists, key terms, equations, or dates. Evidence has repeatedly shown that repeat interaction over a long period of time is more effective than cramming before a test.

The next time you’re standing in line waiting for coffee, you can bang through a few flashcards to keep yourself sharp.

Memrise.com has better aesthetics, Ankisrs.net has better repetition control, StudyBlue integrates nicely with Evernote, and there are countless others.

These tools have combined to reduce my stress, increase my performance, and give me back some of the lost time I’m always searching for. Maybe this semester they can do the same for you.

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