Seven early-semester study tips

Seeing friends again after a summer apart is always exciting, but it’s easy to use that as an excuse to put off studying for classes until you’re facing midterms. Avoid that pre-exam panic with these study tips to use now while the semester is still new.

* Take and get notes now: The night before a midterm isn’t the time to e-mail the class listserv, begging for notes because of a family emergency, whether it’s real or concocted. Establish a system to organize notes, whether it’s setting aside a different notebook for each class or saving typed lecture notes in separate folders. Be sure to back up your notes using secure wireless Internet. Clearly mark notes with the lecture date and topic that correspond with your syllabus for easier studying later.

* Keep track of reading: Details found exclusively in class readings show up on exams, so make sure to keep up with assigned reading. Once you fall behind in your books, it’s hard to get back on schedule. Highlight reading assignments on syllabi as you complete them and write them down on sticky notes to use as bookmarks for the texts.

* Schedule study time: Study and reading time is less of an inconvenience when it’s already mapped out in your schedule. Use your high-speed Internet connection to access Google’s calendar function and block out hours by subject so you can better judge your free time. Be sure to stick to the schedule and treat yourself to study breaks.

* Pick a study location: Some people thrive in silence while others need background noise. Test which environment works best for you by studying at a library, student center and your own desk. Walking to the library takes more effort than sitting at your desk, but productivity there means more time for fun later.

* Read during down time: Spare time between classes is one of the best times to study because you’re already in a learning mindset. Always carry a reading assignment or bring your laptop so those extra minutes can go toward your workload rather than the daily crossword.

* Use online resources: Somehow teachers know which definitions you didn’t write down in class and always put them on study guides and tests. When – not if – that happens, use the greatest tool at your fingertips, the Internet. But be sure to check with multiple sources before memorizing anything found online. Also double-check essay citations and formatting using an online guide to avoid unnecessary penalties.

* Practice time-tested methods: Flash cards that worked well for memorizing multiplication tables in elementary school are also great for subjects that rely on memorization, like history and foreign languages. Study groups are also helpful because chances are someone else in the group understands concepts or has notes that you don’t. Just try to set a time table for group study time and steer away from chatter.

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