Spending hours and hours studying for midterms and find you can't quite retain any information? Pull an all-nighter with nearly nothing to show for it? Maybe the problem isn't the content, just the way you're studying. The human mind is able to focus best under certain conditions, which are not always attained at a library or cafe. To help you get the most of study time, so you can party more, here is a rundown of how to best use your eyes, ears, and limbs in the city of Montreal to ace your midterms.
Less Porn = More Productivity
The internet is a blessing and a curse when it comes to studying. Everything you could ever need to know is on the interwebs, but so is a huge amount of crap you really don't need to see. For optimal studying, get all the info you need (like your textbook) and block your browser from accessing any pesky/distracting sites. Just download BlockSite if you use Chrome or Firefox (here and here), and Mac users can just as easily download SelfControl for a web blacklist. Internet Explorer users (if you're still out there) only need to activate their Content Advisor (Click Tools -> Internet Options -> Content -> Settings then Content Advisor) and then create an unapproved list. You may miss a few Facebook updates, but the lack of online distractions will be worth it for your studying.
Get Out of the Library
Finding a good study environment can be tricky. Super quite spots, like the library, can be actually quite distracting. Ever notice how you can't help but stare down the one person who got up from his/her seat to go to the washroom, or listen in on the phone conversation in the hall, while the entire wing is dead silent? That's because your mind automatically gravitates to large changes in the environment, like sudden noise in a quiet environment. People tend to study best in natural environments, where changes are slow and drastic (clouds, winds, etc.) so why not try some park studying or on Mt. Royal? If that's too outdoors-y for you, there are tons of cafes ideal for studying which offer more overall active movement/distraction, thus making them better study spots. If you can resist the call of alcohol (or even if you can't) check out more chilled out bars during the early afternoon, like Else's in the plateau.
Keep Your Body Satisfied
Hand distractions can be detrimental to a good study sesh. Keep anything too distracting out of arms length, and occupy your hands with pens and paper, like you should be doing. Just as important is making sure your bodily needs, specifically hunger and thirst, are met. People underestimate their need to eat and drink, especially during stressful studying, but being under fed or hydrated can effect your productivity. Cafes are great places to keep thirst at bay, especially if they give free water like El Mundo or Chai Tea Lounge. Taking a short break, especially for food, can help you regain focus and study for a long haul. If you're on a budget, there are plenty of student-friendly places to fill you up and keep you satisfied for under $5.
Take Notes Like A Champ
Don't waste time reading and re-reading chapters of information. It won't get you anywhere. A lot of the time the best students read less, and yet still remember the most. Especially those bastards who never go to class, memorize the textbook, and ace every exam. To take good notes there's a pretty easy process:
Step 1. Read the chapter. Don't worry about specifics, just take it in.
Step 2: Summarize key terms. Go back over the text and look for key concepts, use titles/headers as signifiers
Step 3: Make Key Terms. Synthesize your summaries into specific words.
Then just study the shit outta your list of key terms to effectively study an entire chapter of information.
De-stress and Get Work Done
Some people do not work well under pressure. Anxiety can just distract you from the task at hand and make you get less studying done. A focused mind, free of any dire stress, is crucial for good studying. First start with your body to get your mind going. Stretch your limbs, massage your muscles, or take a warm bath to get yourself relaxed. If the issue isn't physical, try clearing your mind with a long walk outside, patterned breathing exercises, or a small period of meditation. A good mood also goes a long way to clearing stress, which can be attained through endorphin-inducing activities, like exercise, eating healthy (apples and dark chocolate are great endorphin producers), or watch a funny video. These three strategies will remove stress and keep you from getting too anxious.
Listen Up and Tune It Out
Not all genres of music make good study music. Music makes it easy to block out any annoying sounds around you, but not all music will actually help you focus once it does. Sounds/music can be divided into those you 'listen to' and those 'you follow.' Music listened to is unpredictable, and you passively follow the rhythm as it frequently changes. Music you follow is patterned and predictable, you actively listen and predict what comes next. The former allows you to focus on other tasks as the music drowns out surrounding noise, while the latter distracts you while your brain unconsciously tries to figure out the pattern and predict whats next. Instrumental music works best for studying, while sounds with lyrics and repeated rhythms are distracting. Listen to The Youjsh, a Montreal instrumental band, for some sounds of the city while you study.
Did we miss any crucial study tips you always use? Know of a place that fills all three study-requirements? Point them out in the comments below.