Five bad study habits to drop before semester one

January 07, 2016
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Whether you're heading into your first year of uni or coming back as an exam-hardened veteran, it’s a good idea to prepare a mental plan of attack for the coming four months. We all know there are dos and don’ts, but any student worth their salt ought to keep in mind that some ‘study techniques’ out there are really just efficiency traps - some well camouflaged, others not so. 

“Study groups” are actually just chat sessions

There are study groups, and then there are “study groups”. The first is self-descriptive, and a good strategy to get through heaps of info. The second, quotation marks necessary, is a group of people hanging around in close proximity, maybe at a table, tagging each other in memes. Not good. Before you start getting waist-deep in your readings, you wanna make sure that you and your chosen study buddies aren’t just using meetups to debrief about the weekend, or you’ll definitely be kicking yourself come crunch time.

Prioritising distant deadlines before urgent ones

This is something I can speak about with wisdom, because I’m really bad at it. Just because you can smash out a killer intro for that research proposal due in week 12, it doesn’t mean “ignore the 1000 words and reference list due Thursday”. This one is a silent killer, because even if you spend all your time securing a HD on your final assessment, the good grades you get won’t mean anything because of all the earlier assessments you did last-minute. Trust me: chronological wherever possible.

“Online research”, which is also just a chat session

Online tab-browsing was the best and worst thing that ever happened to student productivity. That and Facebook Messenger. It’s really not a good idea to stay so dangerously close to a world of social media distraction while reading through archives and databases. Maybe you aren’t like me and have stellar self-discipline, but I’d bet that once most of us start getting lost in personal messages during study sessions, we’d be opening up some pretty hefty floodgates better off left firmly closed.

Lazy lecture note-taking

Using a laptop, tablet, or any other electronic gadget at uni as a note-taking device? Try handwriting for a week. Not only are you avoiding the whole “distractions” issue, but you’re probably also going to find that the quality of your notes increases dramatically. If you think this sounds like you’re forcing yourself to pay attention because you have nothing else to do but take notes, you’re spot on - that’s the whole point. You’ll thank me when exam revision is a breeze.

To the tech loyalists, if handwriting notes is really too foreign, turn off the wi-fi and stick to the same rules. You’re not waiting to abbreviate whatever sounds important; you’re meant to be getting down the majority of what’s being said. Future you will be a happy you because of it.

Pretending you actually retain information when reading at the tavern

Haha, oh man. Seriously, guys, just don’t try this one. In movies they show students in university settings doing their work in bars or around alcohol and whatever all the time, and that’s great, but it’s one Hollywood’s many lies. Sorry. Unless you’re sitting on your own in a secluded corner, it isn’t gonna happen how you want it to. Keep the reading and writing to quiet and professional spaces, not only to keep your attention span on point, but also to avoid the flipside of this situation where you can’t study anywhere but the tavern. You don’t wanna be that guy. 

Jonathon Davidson

Jonathon is studying journalism at Murdoch University in Perth.

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