The semester is coming to a close, finals and final projects are approaching, and you’re wondering - how can I mix up my study tactics?
These days, quite of a few of us have smartphones, tablets of various sizes/shapes/OS’s by our sides, and access to laptops… we might as well use them to their fullest extent!
Here is a collection of apps for your various study needs, whether you need to get a little more organized, a little more focused, or you just need a little help with the content of your course.
Bonus: we only picked the free ones.
If you’re easily distracted..
These apps will help you curb your mild social media addiction. The first step is admitting you have a problem; the second is taking action. Check out these apps to see how they can help you battle your tendency to get distracted.
If you’re tired of carrying around stacks of flashcards…
For some students, the flashcards really pile up--and buying them can get expensive! These apps provide an alternative, plus you can have access to them wherever you’re heading. Your commute on the B line just became a thirty-minute study sesh.
If you need some help scheduling and keeping track of deadlines..
Deadlines can get a little overwhelming at the end of the semester - especially this year, since syllabi have been altered and re-altered to compensate for Snowmageddon. Don’t let that get the best of you! Hopefully these apps might help you avoid that oh-wow-the-exam-is-tomorrow-isn’t-it moment.
If you’re interested in trying some new studying and note-taking tactics..
Maybe studying straight from your notes isn’t working so well anymore. Check out these apps - maybe mixing it up is just what you need!
For miscellaneous study needs…
your favorite sites, now apps!:
what was that formula again?
Thanks to these posts for inspiration:
What is a desk? A workspace? A motivation station? A surface upon which your inspiration comes to life? If you find yourself sitting at your desk in a sea of sameness--awash with your familiar objects and distractions-- and unable to motivate yourself to do any work, you might need to just get up and try an unfamiliar space to spark your motivation again.
Try something new, be more productive, test your faith in free Wi-fi:
You haven’t seen the Sun in a while. It misses you. The Vitamin D will put you in a better mood so that you can get your work done. You need Wi-Fi? Try the Norman B. Leventhal Park or the Courtyard at the Boston Public Library.
Check Out Your Local Library
They aren’t dead yet. In fact, they even offer ergonomical 1980’s inspired wooden desks, outlets to plug your computer in, and access to the internet! What more could you need? So why not isolate yourself in the cozy catacombs of your local library and bust out that essay? Best part is, no one knows you there so you can slum it as hard as you need to, to ace your midterm.
Try a Cafe
When you are surrounded by other people who are trying to get work done and are energized by a steady stream of caffeine, the motivation is infectious.
Free Wi-Fi found here:
Waffles, Ice Cream, and Bread
Need I say more? Sweet treats with a side of Free Wi-Fi respectively:
Find a rock….Gym?
It’s a little hard to grasp.. (pause for the pun).. But these gyms provide Wi-Fi with your membership so that you can get your work done, and then go work it out on the ropes and in yoga; but mainly on their rock walls.
If you are uncomfortable with the idea of studying away from your traditional desk, think of it this way: when you are stranded in an unfamiliar place you will cling to anything familiar. That familiar thing being your work. So whether it’s outdoors, between dusty books, surrounded by the aroma of coffee, positioned in view of decadent delights, or between a rock and a hard place, you might just find motivation in some of these crazy places.
OR if you’re not into gambling take this Quiz and it will tell you where you should study.
Here are some tips on surviving finals week.
Plan ahead! When I have too many things going on in my head, I get overwhelmed. If I write down everything I need to do, it helps me to say organized. Before the start of finals week, I like to make a list of everything I have to do for each class. I’ll even organize it by the day of the week so that I can give myself a better handle on time management. This way I can give one assignment more priority over the other, depending on when it’s due.
If you can, study with friends! That math exam will seem a little more bearable if you have people to commiserate with. I also find that if you don’t know the answer, someone in the room will. It’s always better to laugh with your friends over that ridiculous topic you went over in class, than to stress about how difficult the exam will be.
Listen to music! Not only does music release endorphins, but it’s also a simple way to relieve some of that built up anxiety. If you feel the stress getting the best of you, take a ten-minute music break. I personally like to put on some fun upbeat eighties music and dance around my room lip-synching to “Love Shack”. It works every time.
Take food breaks! It’s important to keep yourself fueled throughout the week. If you skip dinner and head to the vending machine instead, you’re only refusing your body the energy it needs to get through the day. Skip the bag of chips, and get a burger instead.
Lastly and most importantly, do not psych yourself out! It’s an age-old theory, but positive thoughts equal positive outcomes. If you keep telling yourself you’re going to fail, then you probably will. Surround yourself with positive energy and good vibes and you’ll be just fine. As long as you prepare to the best of your ability, there is no reason you shouldn’t do well. Just take a few deep breaths, and tell yourself that it CAN be done. This really is the secret to success.
I’ve worked as a writing tutor at Suffolk for a number of years, at Second Language Services and now at CLAS. In my experience, students often don’t really know what they want from their tutorial, or how they can prepare for and participate in it. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing: there’s no one “right” way to approach a tutorial, and going in without an agenda can lead to pleasant surprises. But there are also steps you can take to ensure that your tutorial is as productive and helpful as possible. Let’s talk about them:
Before your tutorial
In a way, your tutorial starts long before you set foot in CLAS. With that in mind, plan ahead! Don’t wait to make an appointment until the last minute. Once you’ve made an appointment, carefully consider where you most need help. With a critical eye, review your professor’s comments, relevant assignments, and the work you’ve done so far. Highlight particular places in your assignment where you have issues or questions. Write any important questions down, just in case you forget them during the tutorial. Also, if there’s a specific issue you know you need help with—MLA citation, for example, or comma usage—try to research and work on it prior to your tutorial. That way, you’ll be able to work with your tutor to address any difficulties or misunderstandings.
What to bring to your tutorial
Always, always bring the handout for the assignment you are working on, so that your tutor can gain a clear understanding of what you need to do. He or she might be able to clarify questions you have about the assignment, or whether you are on the right track. Knowing what your professor is asking for, your tutor will be able to offer you better advice.
If you can, bring a paper copy of your writing. While we can work with laptops as well, it’s much easier to underline, circle, make notes and write questions on hardcopy. Typing corrections on screen tends to be time-consuming, meaning that more time is spent making changes than thinking about your paper.
Aside from that, bring anything you think might be useful for reference, especially readings and notes. Class notes and outlines can be great for brainstorming, for instance, and often it’s helpful to have your primary texts there for easy reference too.
When your tutor asks, “What do you want to work on today?”
Occasionally, you truly need help only with grammar. But most of the time, there are (as they say) “bigger fish to fry.” How confident are you in your argument? In the clarity and cohesion of your main ideas? Are there places where you aren’t sure about your organization? Does your introduction or your conclusion need work? Even if grammar is the main thing you want to work on, think actively about the assignment and the writing challenges you face. Don’t be afraid to tell your tutor your thoughts.
In your tutorial
Remember: tutors are not proofreaders. Our job is to help you become a better writer. This means that you need to take an active role in the tutorial, rather than just waiting for your tutor to mark errors. Be the one holding the pen and writing down notes and changes. Look for ways to improve and corrections to make. Ask questions if there’s something you don’t understand. Most of all, be prepared to think hard—about your assignment, and about how to improve as a writer.
After you leave
Right away: write up notes from the session, such as changes you plan to make, or reminders to yourself. If you can, start revising right away, while everything is fresh in your mind! That’s the surest way to ensure that the things you’ve learned in your tutorial will stay with you. After you’ve had time to work on revisions, you might want to schedule a follow-up appointment. We look forward to seeing you at CLAS!
Iain Bernhoft, Tutor
I recently had one of those exams that takes over your life, gives you anxiety, and makes you feel as if your life will be over if you don’t pass. After literally giving myself a cold and feeling like I did awful after taking the test, I have come up with some ways to better prepare.
Even though I have no plans of becoming a lawyer anytime soon, I still had to study and memorize over thirty cases for my Media Law test. Sounds fun right? I figured if I dedicated a day to making the study guide and a few hours before the test the next day to memorize the material, that I would be golden. Oh, how I was so, so wrong. Not only did I grossly underestimate how much time would go into studying for this test, but I also didn’t realize just how much content six chapters could really have. Needless to say, I cannot stress enough how important it is to give yourself enough time to study. You don’t want to have a sore back from sitting on your living room floor for six plus hours and a tired hand to match. I realize that there are those exams that you can study for a few hours or even the night before. I’ve mastered and named myself the queen of procrastination, but unless you are totally confident that you can study in only a few hours, give yourself that extra Sunday morning to prepare. Your body will thank you in the long run. Not to mention your sanity.
Another tip I can share with you all is my favorite method of studying: flash cards! I don’t get to make them very often because most of my exams involve an eight-page essay on the central themes in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” but occasionally I’ll have that bio exam where I have a hundred vocab words to memorize. I realize flash cards aren’t some secret method that has only just been discovered, but I don’t think enough students take advantage of this method. Sure, you can glance over your notes, but your mind isn’t fully taking it in. When you have a flashcard, you are actively quizzing yourself and thus you are more focused. I also like to split up my flashcards into mini piles. I start off by memorizing one pile of flashcards and go through them a few times to make sure that I really know everything. Then I do the same thing with the next set of flashcards. Once I’ve memorized those two piles, I put them together and go through all of them at once. I keep doing this until I’ve gone through every pile. When you have more than a hundred terms to memorize, it can feel incredibly overwhelming. By sorting the flash cards into piles, the process seems a little less daunting. When I studied for my exam I did this all in one day and I felt like I would crash if I crammed anything else into my head. If you memorize a new pile of cards every day, you won’t feel as mentally exhausted. Flash cards might take longer to make, but they can help get you that A.
With these simple methods and a few neon highlighters, you’ll be more than prepared for your next exam.
Lately I’ve been noticing things that I have never noticed before. Taking a step back from my life and observing friends and peers has shown me a whole new realization about memory, the brain, and how “focusing on your studies” can actually be harmful in the long run.
Balancing school with extracurricular activities is definitely a hard task to take on, but my class work has improved in a variety of ways by filling my schedule and immersing myself into clubs and a job. Currently I am a sophomore studying Interior Design, a tutor at the Center for Learning and Academic Success, and a dancer on W!cked hip hop team. What I have realized from balancing these three parts of my life is that the choreography I have to memorize exercises my brain in ways the classroom doesn’t. Because of the memorization that I am doing for dance, my retention of software and tools that I use every day in my interior design courses and tutoring sessions, I have noticed, has become stronger.
While this may not be an ideal schedule for some students, they should still consider doing something in order to keep their brain working and healthy in all areas. As a tutor, the most common problem I see is the retention of tools and software from class to class and even semester to semester. If students spend a few hours a week working in outside activities, even puzzles or taking a walk, we all could improve the power of our brain and even our grades. Students might consider joining a group such as a dance team, a musical, or even a sports team to help improve their memory and work different areas of their brain. Consider the options, even if it means you’re doing puzzles on T.
Being well-rounded and training your brain in more than one area can help you out in more ways than you think. Growth doesn’t happen by just focusing on one area of your life; it happens when you expand your horizons and develop your knowledge of the world around you.
-Mariah Couture, Tutor