Study Tips

Having just had three midterms in the past four days, I think I can classify myself as a sort of expert in this kind of thing.

And now I’m about to pass my expertise down onto you guys, do with it what you will. These are the things I usually do to stay focussed and to actually get the information to stay in my brain when studying for tests. Let me say now that it’s a really good idea to study before the night before a test because you’re hardly going to retain any information like that, even with all the tricks in the world.

1. Figure out what kind of learner you are. This is super important when studying!! I cannot stress that enough! You could be totally visual, auditory, kinesthetic or any combo of the three in how you learn. This really affects how you should go about preparing your notes.

–> Lets say you’re more visual. You should definitely try to use lots of colours and flashcards because those things tend to stick in your mind better. I’m like this and I always colour code my notes and organize them on an unlined sheet of paper (why I am saying that in the singular, it was definitely a plural amount of paper) so that it’s really easy for me to physically picture the paper in my head and pretty much read off the information I wrote down from memory.

–> If you remember things by hearing them, you’re an auditory learner. If you’re really a go getter, you could totally record your lectures and listen to them later. Otherwise, just reading the textbook and/or your notes out loud to yourself, family or even pets helps ideas stick in your brain.

–> If you’re the type of person that can’t sit still in class, it’s likely that you’re a kinesthetic learner. I am also very much this. And I know how much it sucks to make yourself sit down and memorize stuff. That’s why I like to rewrite my notes. Yes, it’s pretty time-consuming (even though I do condense them quite a bit) because writing is moving and my brain seems to remember things once I’ve written them down rather than just looked at a paragraph of text. Also, by putting little notes all over the house with things you need to know means that you don’t have to be sitting down at your desk the entire time you’re studying. Whenever you go to the fridge, you can read your list of strong acids and bases. Every time you open your laptop, you’ve got your list of formulas necessary to memorize for calculations. Works like a charm.

2. Set goals. When all you have on your to do list is “study”, not a lot is going to get done. By breaking up everything you need to do into smaller, more manageable chunks, it makes it easier to stay on track. Seriously, if your closest goal is to just “know everything I need to know for this test” then, man, you’re doomed. Try things like “finish notes on this chapter” or “do every second example on page 455” or even “understand  this one concept” because not only does tell you exactly what you have to do but you feel a little more motivated every time you finish something, no matter how small it is!

3. Reward system. Related to the above tip, treat yourself!! Let’s say you’re kind of hungry and there’s a container of strawberries in the fridge you would just love to demolish. Instead of rationalizing your ability to both eat something messy and stay focussed on the task at hand (which obviously you won’t do) just tell yourself that after you finish this one thing, then you get to go feed yourself guilt-free! Works with watching an episode of your favourite show or chilling with your pet. You’ll be really excited to go do whatever it is that you’ll just have to finish what you set out to do first.

4. Schedule. When you plan out your day/study time, it’s a lot easier to stay on top of things. You can set expected times to be finished with certain things and can even schedule in free time in there. That way it’s not 1am with you wondering where the time went.

5. Examples! Some things are pretty much just memorizing (looking at you, bio) but other things are just practical applications of skills. There are infinite situations that can arise and it’s next to impossible to have them all memorized so the best thing you can do is examples. By repeatedly using the same method tweaked a little bit for each question you try out, it becomes all the more easy for your brain to recognize what to do in that kind of situation or something similar. (I’m looking at you, integration)

6. Background music. Definitely put on music if you’re the kind of person that listens to music while studying but be careful about what kind of music it is! I know you really like Elle Me Dit by MIKA but do you really think you can quietly read your notes while the music is begging to be danced around to. And don’t even think about Disney soundtracks because there is no way in heck that you won’t break out singing to Let It Go. I suggest quiet music that doesn’t really demand to be heard like Owl City’s quiet songs or wordless soundtracks. (The How To Train Your Dragon one is phenomenal)

6. If you’re going to procrastinate, do something useful. With all these previous tips, I’m making it sound like I am the jedi master of studying and nothing ever gets to me. Could not be more opposite! For instance, I’ll be writing blog posts or thinking of hilarious tweets when I should really by thinking about differential equations. And I’ve been known to discover new music instead of memorizing the properties of inverse matrices. But my advice to you is that should you find yourself in a situation when you just physically cannot make yourself be productive school-wise, be productive elsewhere! Make your bed! Make a sandwich! Make a scarf! Yes, you’re not studying by something good still came from it and you will feel 400% less horrible about yourself than if you just sat staring at your papers or playing flappy bird. Trust me.

So there you have it! My surprisingly long-winded post regarding everything I know about shoving information into your head so that you can later regurgitate it onto a test! Let me know if you find anything helpful or if you have some super secret technique that I didn’t mention here!

//If you’re nowhere in the mood to study and nothing can change your mind, check this post about Procrastination Tips out

Physics Joke

Some backstory:

I had physics this morning and it was a super early class and the only way I know how to function is is my expressing myself through bad jokes and horrible puns. Also, we were learning the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. (So, entropy, the fact that everything tends to disorder.)

Okay, now that you know that, you can find it funny when you hear that my comment was “So now I have an excuse to explain to my mom why my room is always messy!”

Long story short, my friends didn’t appreciate the joke as much as I thought they should so I’m turning to the internet for validation.

Life Update

Felt like just typing at y’all about myself.

To be honest, I’m kind of surprised that I’ve stuck with this for as long as I have! I’m the kind of person that likes the beginning of things, like learning something completely brand new at school or knitting projects or blank notebooks because there’s a ton of possibilities and so much could happen. Once I’m actually into it, I realize that it’ll take hard work to continue doing this and slowly extricate myself from the whole deal. Unfinished should be my middle name for the amount of things that I abandon. Except it’s not because my mom is pretty decent and decided not to do that to me. I don’t even have a middle name. Fun fact.

I think the main reason that this blog is still chugging along is because no one expects anything from it. Like, as of now, I have 13 followers and one of them is my sister so it’s not like there are people out there who don’t want to be disappointed. Also, the fact that I must post every single day means that I have some leg room if any of my posts are especially lame since it’s not like I had a whole week or something to create something brilliant and thought provoking as well as witty. To tell the truth, all my posts are pretty much done at midnight and then I change the time stamp to a more normal hour. Yup, your life is a lie.

I considered stopping the whole one post a day deal because school is especially crazy right now and I really should be studying in all my spare time but I really feel like me and the commitment could go a long way! It’ll be cool looking back on this later on and seeing what me from the past thought would be cool to blog about. (More like cringe probably. Present me and past me never really agree)

But yeah, there’s that thought process put into words. Funny how it took me all of 4 seconds in real like but over 300 words…

School-wise, things are going swimmingly! I have quite a few friends and most of them are really hardcore studiers. This in turn makes me feel super guilty about not studying and then pushes me to put in more effort! Like for example, I started studying for my midterm that’s on Wednesday yesterday!! That’s a whole 4 days before instead of the usual 1! My next step should probably be to make study notes as the classes go along, not all at once while frantically studying…

Kind of really excited for this week to be over because I have three midterms on four days and one of those days is a saturday…not cool. I’ve never had tests this back to back (except in high school but I am slowly realizing that high school is nothing compared to university) before meaning I always had a wackload of time to study for the next one in between so I’m feeling really unprepared going into this. Afterwards though, my church is holding a Royal Ball that I’m helping out at for all the little kids. They get to be little princesses and princes! I’ll probably do some craft with them. There’s also the fact that I don’t think I’ll have any more midterms until the second round of them since I haven’t heard anything about Intro to Mech Eng and Physics’ only has one midterm way later on.

Really the only thing keeping me going is the fact that I only must survive this week and the next and then it’s reading week! A million blessings on the person that invented that. A whole week to catch up on sleep and tv shows for the first 5 days and then cram all the studying I should have been doing the whole time into the last two. That and also when people favourite or retweet me on twitter. I seriously put a lot of work into wording otherwise bland life events into witty one-liners over there so validation is always welcome!

So that’s about it, my mom has actually commented on my potato-like status on the couch I’m occupying at the moment which means it’s around time to switch my location back to my desk.

New Words & New Friends

Yesterday was a good day.

I know I’ve complained about my schedule to you guys before but I’m actually warming up to it now! Being at school for 14 hours, I was pretty much dead by the end of it but right now after I had a good night’s sleep and am actually fully functional, it was a pretty sweet day. This is the part where I tell you about it.

Canadian BeavertailsDSC_2835-450

I had physics first thing which probably sounds like the opposite of a good thing but it’s one of my favourite classes! And to boot I understood all the problems we did in class AND we didn’t write as much as usual so my hand doesn’t hate me. Then came a 3 hour break in which I braved the freezing cold to stand in line for free beavertails and maple taffy with a friend. Worth it.

Cue a second three hour break (Yes, I am at school without classes for the same amount of time my little sister is at school in total. Just let that sink in.) in which I chilled with a friend, had food (always worth mentioning), and was productive in a way that didn’t feel very productive and therefore didn’t tire me out as much, Bonus.

 

I then had a class in which I know the most people (we take up a whole row) and when I see that I get proud of myself for being social and knowing that many people. Other thing that happened in that class was that I sat beside and talked to one of those friends which should have been awkward because of recent circumstances but was decidedly not. Score.

Had a quick calculus tutorial and by this time it was 7pm and time for my final class of the day. There’s this really snazzy thing about my campus which is the fact that there’s a bus stop on either end making it a thing to be able to hop on one bus and get off at the next stop to save you from a 10 minute walk and entering your class late. So I did that and here’s where the first meeting-of-a-new-person happened because I sat beside a boy who went to the exact same place as me. So now I know n+1 mechanical engineers!

Hands down my favourite class is Intro to Mechanical Engineering. We were learning more 3D modelling techniques and I was pretty much making a fool out of myself getting all excited about all the parts we were creating. My apologies to all the friends I sent random snapchats too with no description and just a picture of a hubcap or something. My second friend and first word happened in this class. This dude sat beside my buddy in our row of three (first row, of course) and we all ended up talking and then the word popped up during the lecture. It’s “knurling“. For some reason, I kill myself laughing every time I hear or think it. Don’t ask me why. And if you’re wondering what it means, it’s just a surface pattern on some tools. Pretty nifty, eh?

knurling

(Question: Do you guys like this kind of post? Is my life and/or how I go about telling you about it a good thing to see here or something you’ll skip over until I tell you another science fact or review another movie? I loooove feedback!)

Snail Mail

This is something that I’m really into.

For real. If you are my friend irl, I probably at some point have asked if we can write old fashioned, hand written letters to each other. Even if I see you every day at school. There’s just something so cool about getting letters in the mailbox that your friend took the time to pen and stamp and send. You get to see their actual handwriting and everything about it is awesome.

Reminds me of this comic: 

Image

 

I forget where I was going with this…

Oh yeah, closely related to writing letters is pen pals. I have always wanted one of those. But seriously, how do you get one? Where does that start happening? I remember I had one in grade 2 for English class but we only exchanged like two emails and then the teachers were like “okay that’s enough let’s move on to the next unit.” So hey, Olivia, if you’re out there, that was a very beautiful picture of a cat you sent me back in grade 2.

In conclusion, letters are about the most personal method of communication you can have with someone. It’s easy to send a facebook message but it actually means you care if you handwrite a letter and send it to someone. Currently, I’m corresponding with most of my camp friends who are spread throughout the world in Australia, British Columbia and the same city as me! Opening the mailbox and getting to see what they’re up to is literally the best feeling on earth.

Second Semester Begins

All across the country, a collective groan rises up from students having to get out of bed to actually go to school.

It’s not like I don’t like school; university’s been a blast. I enjoy my program and love learning new things. I’ve just become nocturnal over the past two weeks and it’s hard to reverse that all at once. Plus there’s the fact that on tuedsays and thursdays I have 7.5 and 10.5 hours of class,

Livin’ the engineering life…

Free Time…

…and how I waste it.

I lead a fairly busy life. I’m in a demanding program at university, have a part-time job, am active in my church and sometimes, occasionally, hang out with friends. A lot of my time is spent either commuting or just otherwise not being at home. Which is great, I love doing all the things that I’m involved in right now. The thing is, when I get time to myself, it just goes to waste. It’s just sad watching me create a trainwreck for myself.

It seems like I only get things done when it’s most definitely the last minute. Even things I enjoy I put off. Like I can be home for the day and have just 3 chores to have finished by the time my mom comes home yet every single time, it’ll be an hour before and I’m scrambling to multi-task all three or at least make it look like I’ve put in the effort to have them done. And I say I’ll do the easy peasy assignments as soon as I get home just to get them over with, y’know? But, of course, it’s either really late at night or the morning of when I start it. What is wrong with me?

I’ve tried many tricks like rewarding myself for getting specific tasks done but I just rebel against myself and get the reward even though I don’t deserve it. I attempt to strategize by making lists and numbering them off in order off importance but this only makes a dent if I make a million and three items to check off by breaking all the steps down into microsteps. I even do the classic pretend-it’s-due-earlier-than-it-actually-is trick which works surprisingly well. Like if I say I need everything done after the weekend, magically it will all get done and I’ll have some extra time to waste later on. This way, I still feel like I need to finish the work so the last minute panic is there egging me on. But a lot of the time my brain can see through the lies and knows I don’t actually need to have it done and so I don’t even though I have all the time in the world.

It’s a real dilemma and I shall try my best to completely eradicate this habit for my next semester of university by we all know that’s not going to happen. Oh well. Slowly but surely making progress? Hopefully.

Forever Yours,

Karen

How To: Study

It’s like the blind leading the blind.

(Yes, bonus post because I’m feeling inspired and because I’m good at procrastinating)

I must confess something. I am a smart kid. I get things pretty quickly and overall do really well in school. I didn’t study at all in middle school and did what I guess you could call studying in high school and finally the real thing happened near the end. I’m in university now so actual studying is actually mandatory if I’m feeling like getting a good mark in a class. And that’s where how I grew up becomes a problem: I’m not good at studying. I haven’t had years to fine tune my habits.

The proper simile for me now would be one of those fish flopping around on a dock after it’s been caught and unhooked. I’m trying my best but it’s really not getting me anywhere.

First of all, I’m really susceptible to distractions. Take now, for instance. I’m playing the game Little Alchemy, deciding if a song I discovered is good enough to add to my itunes and blogging about how I should be studying. Earlier, I was adding a whole bunch of books that I don’t have the time to read on my Goodreads and keeping up with John Green on my Twitter timeline. (Fun fact: I am shameless with my self-promotion) Once my brain gets disrupted and is no longer In The Zone, there’s no stopping me. I’m a snowball; getting farther from my destination and just gaining speed. I try all the things one would try to stop this from happening but it’s really hard to not browse the internet when what you’re studying is also on the internet! School should have thought that one through a little better.

There’s also the fact that I usually don’t know what to do. There are some subjects where the studying comes really easily. All you have to do is memorize this list of facts or be able to solve this type of problem. Chemistry and mechanics right there. But English? And, more importantly, programming? I need to memorize the syntax and how to build codes but how in the world do I learn that on my own? That’s what I’m figuring out.

At least I do know some things about myself that help it work. I know that I’m a kinesthetic and visual learner so what works best for me is rewriting my notes and organizing them on the page or, better yet, using different colours. By writing everything down, my brain is actively participating so it soaks more in and by using the colours I can actually visualize what the page of notes looks like while I’m writing an exam and pretty much read off of it.

It really helps to know that part of you because then you can study more effectively and therefore, yipee, can study less if you so desire. I think we did the “How I Learn” test way back in grade 9 but there’s some of those things all over the internet, you just have to look.

If anyone out there is reading this, lemme ask you what your study strategies are and why they work for you!

Doggedly Yours,

Karen