Study Less, Study Smart

College students are often overwhelmed, stressed out, and in constant panic mode. This is somewhat understandable, because studying at uni and studying in high school are two completely different things. Also, there are a lot of other social pressures present during this period, and students often find they can’t manage both their personal lives and their studies. The key to handling exam stress isn’t to study longer and harder, but to organize your studies according to the preferences, interests, and personal circumstances of each student. At this point in their lives, university students should know themselves well enough to be able to figure out what pace and what subjects work best for them.

Stick to the schedule

Pulling all-night studying sessions is the least effective way to study – it’s tiring and retention levels are quite low. It’s best to prepare a detailed studying schedule beforehand and stick to it no matter what. Procrastination easily becomes a habit and should be avoided at all cost. Depending on their obligations, students should endeavor to study at the same time every day and preferably in the same or similar environment. There are no rules as to what kind of environment that should be. It was once believed that peace and quiet are an essential part of studying, but some people just don’t work that way.

Baby steps

Each study session should have a specific goal. It doesn’t matter how small it is, it could be just getting trough a single chapter, or solving one particular math problem, or even just getting your notes in order, but every time a student calls it a day they should have accomplished something and that should move them closer to a larger goal. Also, it’s important that at the end of each milestone, the student takes the time to review what’s accomplished and how it fits in with the plan.


Some of the most common mistakes when it comes to notes is that they are either too detailed or too scarce. Notes shouldn’t be a simple outline of the lecture, part of studying is the ability to connect similar concepts and themes. Notes created by students actually dealing with the subject for the first time are therefore much more useful. Detailed Wace notes can be found online in various different formats and used as a valuable studying tool.

Taking breaks

Breaks are an absolutely necessary part of the studying process. Even if students feel like they could go on beyond the time they’ve set out for themselves, it’s better to take regular breaks and unwind a bit. The main issues are of course how long the breaks should last and how far apart should they be taken. There’s no right answer for either question, each person should decide based on their own capabilities, but for those who can’t concrete for too long, adding an additional 10 minutes each week could be a worthy cause. Too long a break can also prove to be a problem, as anything longer than 15 minutes will just get you out of studying mode.

Rate by difficulty

It’s a pretty old rule, but there’s a reason it’s still around. Start with the most difficult subject first, when you’re the most rested and willing to work and then move on to subjects you enjoy or are better at. It’s important to point out that this doesn’t mean that you should start with the most important ones, or the subject that require the longest time to go through. It’s a completely personal decision –the subjects that you’re personally bad at should come first.

Asking for help

Study groups can be very helpful. Going through a difficult subject with your peers and friends is a completely different experience than doing it in class. However, if they are not organized, these sessions could become an excuse for hanging out instead of studying and waste your time. It’s better if everyone comes to the group prepared, with clearly defined areas in which they need help and with which they can provide help. In the end, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help from the professors themselves – be open about parts of the lecture that you’re struggling with.

Organization and time management are the two pillars of successfully going through university exams. It may seem a challenging chapter in student’s lives, but it can be accomplished by anyone willing to put in the effort.

1 thought on “Study Less, Study Smart”

  1. I myself never understood the concept of studying for a test. Because in society, life is a test where you’re encouraged to use your notes. You are to use all resources for success in life. Studying life and memorizing is ridiculous.

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