How do you study anyway?
Lost your study mojo? Rachel and Kelly are here to get you back on track.
Kelly: Hi and welcome back to another episode of UTS Student Hacks podcast! Hope you’ve enjoyed Stuvac and ready to smash out the last half of the semester!
Rachel: So much is happening, you name it: exams, assessments, group projects. But, a bit of a silly question, how do we study for that anyways?
Kelly: Don’t worry! In this episode we will be delving into everything and anything that has to do with studying including cramming, pre-exams, and gearing up for the final part of the semester.
Rachel: We are going to focus on 3 main areas to get you back on track: How to get your motivation back, How to stay focused, and How to keep track of deadlines and events.
Kelly: It is now just past the midway point of this spring session and my motivation is at an all- time low. Studying seems to be an option rather than a requirement especially as classes are mostly online making them really easy to forget about. Getting into a “studying mood” by yourself is really hard.
Rachel: Omg that seems to be the case with me too! I’m usually in the “get that HD” mode at the start of the semester, but by week 7 or 8, that’s when I feel tired and burnt out from working, studying and trying to get my group members to reply to my messages about the upcoming assignment. I notice, though, that to pump myself up I really need to focus on that “why?” Why am I doing this? Why is this important to me? Why do I have to do this right now and not leave it off to the last minute?
Rachel: When I really focus on the reason why I have to get things done, I find that I have no choice but to get started. And once I get started with a task I find that it gets easier from there and I am able to get in the spirit of studying!
Kelly: I typically enjoy studying with others as it kind of forces me to do work. My friends and I usually organise study calls through Messenger or Zoom. But the most popular platform we use is Discord. Firstly, invite some friends onto your server. Next, create a studying voice channel and join it whenever you are studying. Eventually someone else joins and it becomes an impromptu study call.
Rachel: Ok, now that you’ve gotten in the mood for studying. Where do you start?!! If you’re like me and feel like you’re already 12 weeks behind with a mountain of lectures to watch and many more assignments to get started on, it feels hard to just find a place to start. That’s why it’s important to first prioritise your tasks from most to least urgent then get focused.
Kelly: So how in the world do you get focused? As cliche as it sounds, you just gotta do it. It can be with a simple task such as locating your assignment question and taking the time to read it and the marking rubric. If you get really distracted like me, I suggest using the Pomodoro method to keep track of how much time you are spending on a single study session. There are several apps on the market which use the Pomodoro method with the added feature of locking you in the app to prevent you from accessing distractions on your phone. I typically use the apps Donut Dog and Flora as they are free to use. There is also a handy dandy website that essentially does the same which will be linked in the resources below.
Kelly: Sometimes these apps just can’t stop me from procrastinating. The only solution that I know that works for me is either disconnecting my phone from the internet or turning it off completely. That may seem a bit intense but it works.
Rachel: If you’re wondering what the pomodoro method even is, then let me briefly explain it to you:
- Choose a task you want to work on
- Set a timer for 25 minutes
- Work on your task till the timer rings then put a checkmark on a paper
- Take a 5 minute break where you do something non-work related like stretching or talking to someone at home with you
- After every 4 rounds of this, take a longer break of 20-30min. This will help you to regroup your thoughts and rest before the rest of your Pomodoro study sesh!
Rachel: This is a very good technique that helps me and Kelly with getting some studying done!!
Kelly: For those people out there who have uni, multiple jobs and other extracurricular activities going on, or just have too many things going on at once, it is definitely not easy to keep track of what’s going on and it eventually becomes overwhelming. To combat this, I use Google Calendar. This calendar has been my life saver in reminding me weeks in advance that I have an assignment due, class in 10 minutes and showing me where I have free time to hang out with friends. I chose Google Calendar because it can be used across multiple devices meaning I can access it on my laptop and phone.
Kelly: If you prefer a paper based planning system such as a planner, I suggest using post-it notes to make important tasks stand out. With the extra space on the post-it note, you can write down key details such as the deadline, word count, and a mini task list.
Kelly: Regardless of what system you use, it is really important to plan in advance. I must stress that it is ok to mess up along the way. Strive to be flexible when you are making these plans as other events may throw you off your intended course.
Rachel: Whenever I’m studying at home, I make sure that I’m sitting at my desk; not in the living room with my family or the kitchen with the cats. Like mentioned in the previous episode “Best tips for studying remotely”, your studying set-up plays a massive role in your productivity. The good thing about this is that I can write the things I have due and stick them on the wall around me. This helps me to be aware of the amount of things I have due and by when I need to get them done. Like our lovely Kelly has mentioned before, it’s VERY important to plan in advance because this will help you complete a task to the best of your ability. And even though my friends and I joke and say that diamonds are made under pressure, trust me, your uni work is in no way a diamond: it needs all the time it could get and thorough revision every now and then.
Rachel: But let’s say you have left an assignment till a week before it’s due. What can you do? From experience, please DON’T leave it till the last couple of days. This will not make you efficient at all, if anything it’ll just make you worry about the approaching deadline and hitting the word count. What you can do instead is split your assignments into small sections and complete one of them on each day of the week.
Kelly: As for quizzes, if you haven’t started writing notes then simply write down the main concepts so you have a broad idea of the topics being tested. Don’t worry about writing what the lecturer says word for word as you are on a time crunch and you will not have enough time to study and revise.
Kelly: For an extra bit of insight, we have interviewed a couple of UTS U:PASS leaders and asked them about some of their tips and tricks that help them with studying and gearing up for the final part of the semester:
Rachel: So far, we’ve mentioned some methods and apps that could help you study. But how about the things that you shouldn’t do? Alexander shared one thing he now avoids:
Alexander: I don’t know if it was a mistake, just the way I was studying last year. I split the screen in half so I was watching a TV show and then I was reading some notes or something like that. Technically I was supposed to be reading and watching, and I’m pretty sure I zoned out.
Kelly: So you zoned out on both?
Alexander: Yeah, I’m not very good at multitasking. But I want to feel like I can multitask.
Kelly: If we could multitask that would be so great. But yeah, it’s pretty hard, especially if you need to concentrate on a particular task at one time.
Kelly: That’s such a great point, in fact we have an episode on procrastination and multi-tasking which we’ll link down below.
Rachel: Well, how about efficiently finishing up a big assessment that’s coming up? Is there a way that could make it easier to start and finish? Let’s meet Avi and listen to what he has to say on this matter:
Avi: I know a lot of people struggle from procrastination and it is real. One way to get over procrastination before a time where you can still get up and do your stuff, do your assignment before it gets too late and everything gets out of your hand. And by that I mean is think about your project and take something small from it, which you could work on right now, and probably start doing that. And then once you get into it and you feel like you probably need some extra help or something like that, then you can reach out to someone. But if you don’t start you will never know. Sometimes procrastination happens because you’re too confident in your skills about a project or assignment. And that may be true, but you’re actually wasting a lot of time, and even with your skills you might end up taking more time than you anticipated. So always remember it is okay to start small.
Kelly: Lastly, we often stress about note taking and deadlines. How does Alice do it? Let’s find out!
Alice: I’ve learned the hard way to motivate and push myself because I realise the longer I procrastinate, the longer I will be stressed. So I’ve sort of built that mentality that I can smash it out, like the short amount of pain for like, the lifetime of happiness later on. So that’s why I kind of pushed myself to get it over and done with. Obviously putting good quality into the work. But yeah, just smash it out as early as I can, so I don’t stress in the future.
Alice: I’m a scribbler. So I always like to write topic notes. So say if I’m doing a business unit that has, you know, 12 weekly topics and there is small theories and contents. I always like to write them down. Especially when they’re important, like they’re big headings. So week one, you know, we’re learning about marketing. And then within that, you’re learning about price, all which stuff right? So I always like to write it instead of typing it. I don’t know why, I feel like it sticks to me a little better. And I always write summaries of summaries, that’s a bit extra. But then I always like to write notes on top of those notes, because you can filter out what the lecture is saying once with your own notes, but then you can filter out what you’re saying with the second set of notes. Yeah, it’s kind of like note inception, but that’s what I like to do to prepare.
Kelly: I used to do that if I had time, it really solidifies what you are kind of learning and can figure out what you don’t actually know.
Alice: It’s like you get the takeaway points when you do that. The only downside is that it does take a lot of time. So again, I reiterate the whole staying on top of the weekly content, so that you have time at the end to sort of do that. So time management is a really, really big thing.
Kelly: We asked some UTS Students what they’re top study tips were for preparing for the upcoming assessment period, here’s what they had to say.
Paul Hong: I think it’s best to separate where you rest and where you study or work, that’s my study tip.
Darshil: Basically it’s online for us, attend the lectures that are going on for everyone. Ask as many questions as you want, or the trouble you are going through to the officers and just go through the pre- reading material before every lectures, that’s what I’m doing, yeah.
Ashish: To keep up with the workload I’ve been attending lectures this semester and keeping notes from the lectures, and working with friends to go over the notes so it becomes easier for the exam.
Jeff: I tend to take on a study approach where I take 15 minutes focus into my work and then take a short 5 minute break to make sure I do not wander off my task or procrastinate onwards.
Clarice: Sometimes I find it pretty hard to focus on my assignments because of social media and stuff. I go on random apps on my phone and time passes by quickly without me realising it. So I have this app that I downloaded which I quite like, and it’s called Forest. It’s basically an app where you would lock your phone from around 20 minutes to 2 hours. And while your phone is locked it grows a plant. And the more you use this app, the more coins you get, and the more coins you get, you get to buy new plants. So in the end you grow a forest. So the more you study, and the more you leave your phone untouched, the nicer your forest looks, basically.
Cameron: No matter how stressful it gets, it’s worth keeping your exercise regime, whether its tennis or climbing, or just going for a run, no matter how busy you get it’s worth having that outlet.
Rachel: Thank you for sticking to the end of this podcast. Now to recap on how to study:
Kelly: Find your motivation – study with friends.
Rachel: Focus and start – Keep distractions away.
Kelly: Plan, plan, plan. It is really important to plan ahead.
Kelly: Keep in mind that hard work pays off so do not get too discouraged if you do not see results overnight.
Rachel: Talk to you in our next podcast. Until then,
Rachel and Kelly: Find your mojo.
About this episode
Lost your study mojo? Rachel and Kelly are here to re-motivate you to finish the semester on a high. With advice from U:PASS leaders, top tips from UTS Students, and resources that will help you beat procrastination, this episode has everything you need in order to stay on track with assignment deadlines and get prepared for upcoming exams.
Written and Presented by Kelly Ding & Rachel Khalef
Produced and Edited by Liv Day
Music: Spark of Inspiration - https://www.silvermansound.com/
U:PASS leaders in this episode:
- Alice Nguyen
- Alexander Chu
- Aviraj Attri
UTS Student voices in this episode:
- Jeff Chan
- Clarice Tan
- Paul Hong
- Cameron Jenaway
- Darshil Shah
- Ashish Tuladhar