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How to Study: A Student Perspective

Woman biting on a pencil while studying
Angel Garcia standing in the snow

This piece was written by communication intern Angel Garcia. Angel Garcia will graduate from BC and transfer out to a 4 year university where he will continue his education and get my Masters in Sociology. His goal for the future is to work along side social services to be a resource for children and families who need stable homes. He loves to soak in as much information he can get, help people as much as he can, and read too much Stephen King books! 

*Disclaimer: This is an article faculty can share with their students as they prepare for finals.

When it comes to being a student nothing is scarier than hearing there are upcoming midterms or final exams. Questions on chapters 1 through 8 can feel like chapters 1 through 100 and suddenly the world feels like the movie Jaws. Where the camera does that fast vertigo stretch which focuses on the police chief while the background stretches far away as he witnesses a shark attack. 

That feeling of dread is a perfectly normal reaction. Don’t fret, I’m here to help! 

As someone who likes to make sure I get the best grade on the exams I have developed studying techniques that have helped me the most. Hopefully these techniques can help any student who needs guidance on how to tackle the task of studying.

First, let’s talk about technology. The laptop we carry is light, convenient and an easy way to take notes during class lectures. I myself carry my trusty laptop around to class and focus my attention (trying) to type as fast as the professor speaks, but, for me, none of the information I type sticks to my memory. In one ear and out the other as the saying goes. 

Which leads me to my second point: studying by rewriting notes. It feels like a lot of work to write the information down by hand, but I promise it’s a solid way to begin to retain some of the information from the class. What I like to do is take the main points from a class lecture that I have typed and rewrite it on paper. Points can be terms that have definitions, and bullet points the professor puts on the whiteboard or powerpoint slides. Even details from when you hear a professor say “this is important,” or “this isn’t in the textbook.” Consider that an important piece of lecture and write it down. It will come in handy when we get to the third part of my studying technique process: creating flashcards. 

The first thing that should be written down are the important side notes the professor gives during lectures. That way the information isn’t forgotten down the line. This is also the point where the course textbook comes in handy. I like to make flash cards for all of the terms that are unfamiliar during the lecture. What I like to do is highlight the terms, write them on one side of a flashcard and on the other side I write the definition. If the definition is still not sticking I usually write a few key terms that familiarize myself with the meaning. For example, in one of my classes I see the term “hypothesis” in my textbook and then I see it’s described as “proposed explanation for a set of observations.” I’m still a little confused about what that really means so as I read more on the subject in the textbook under the term definition I write words such as “explanation” and “test” to help me identify the meaning a little bit better. 

The final step to studying is having a friend or a family member willing to help with practice quizzes. After the flashcards are complete and organized, I like to have someone quiz me. I create two piles. One pile has the flashcards that I got right and the other pile has the flashcards that I missed. This helps me to recognize what I know and focus on what I still need to work on. 

Studying is never easy, in fact, it’s absolutely hair-pullingly frustrating at points. But the hard work that’s put into it pays off in the end. Never feel discouraged to give up on a class if it feels the exams will be too hard. Studying goes a long way with guiding any student on the path to success. If it seems hard, never be afraid to reach out to the tutoring center for help. There are so many resources to help with student success. I’m hoping this article can be another helpful resource because, like Bakersfield College’s mission statement, vision, and values, we want to provide the best opportunities for students to be successful on campus.

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