Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, pictured here, is a graduate student at both Harvard, AND Yale. If brains are your thing, look no further, eh? Sophia, the daughter of famous writer Amy Chua, also has her own blog in which she decided to do students everywhere a kindness and share her top-tier-tips for studying effectively.
The rules are as follows:
1. Choose classes that interest you. That way, studying doesn’t seem like slave labor. If you don’t want to learn, then I can’t help you.
2. Make some friends.
3. Study less, but study better.
4. Avoid autopilot brain at all costs.
5. Vague is bad. Vague is a waste of time.
6. Write it down.
7. Suck it up, buckle down, get it done.
Plan of attack Phase 1: Class
8. Show up. Everything will make a lot more sense that way, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time in the long run.
9. Take notes by hand. I don’t know the science behind it, but doing anything by hand is a good way to carve it into your memory. Also, if you get bored you will doodle, which is still a thousand times better than ending up on StumbleUpon or something.
Phase 2: Study Time
10. Get out of the library. The sheer fact of being in a library doesn’t fill you with knowledge. Eight hours of Facebooking in the library is still eight hours of Facebooking. Go home and bathe, you can quiz yourself while you wash your hair.
11. Do a little every day, but don’t let it be your full day. “This afternoon I will read a chapter of something and do half a problem set. Then I will watch an episode of “South Park” and go to the gym” ALWAYS BEATS “Starting right now I’m going to read as much as I possibly can.. oh wow it’s midnight, I’m on page 5 and my room reeks of Ramen and dysfunction.”
12. Give yourself incentive. There’s nothing worse than a big gaping abyss of study time. If you know you’re going out in 6 hours, you’ll get a lot more done.
13. Allow your friends to confiscate your phone when they catch you playing Angry Birds. Oh and if you think you need a break, you probably don’t.
Phase 3: Assignments
14. Stop Highlighting. Underlining is supposed to keep you focused, but it’s actually a one way ticket to Autopilot Brain. You zone out, look down, and suddenly you have 5 pages of neon green that you don’t remember reading.
15. Do all your own work. You get nothing out of copying a problem set.
16. Read as much as you can, there’s no way around it. Stop using SparkNotes.
17. Be a smart reader, not a robot. Ask yourself: What is the author trying to prove? What is the logical progression of the arguement?
18. Don’t read everything, but understand everything that you read.
19. Bullet points. For essays, summarize everything.
Phase 4: Reading Period (review week)
20. Once again, do not move into the library.
21. If you don’t understand it, it will definitely be on the exam. Textbooks and the internet will have the answers.
22. Do all the practice problems.
23. To memorize effectively: Stop reading your list over and over again. Say it out loud, write it down, have your friends quiz you. Then return the favour.
24. Ask your friends to listen while you explain difficult concepts to them. This forces you to articulate your understanding.
25. Go for the big picture. Try to figure out where a specific concept fits the course as a whole. Every class has a big theme, find it. Remember, vague is bad.
Phase 5: Exam Day
26. Crush exam. Get A.
Well, there you have it. Your fool-proof guide to studying as effectively as possible. Remember, you don’t have to be going to an Ivy League school to use there. Hell, you don’t have to be at school period. You can probably use these methods to study for a ton of things.
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