Study Dos and Don'ts: We've Been There

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Pick and choose what's right for you!

Study Drill | Ronen Adler

If my first five semesters at the University of Michigan have taught me anything, it is how to maximize my study sessions. When I would study as a first-semester freshman, I never made a study plan, I would just go to the library and sit there for hours going over material in my head and in my notes. I learned quickly that it isn’t necessarily how much time you spend studying, but studying with intention. Through this realization, I changed my study methodology. With the lecture, I realized that I sometimes had trouble following along with the slides because I couldn’t remember everything that I had learned in the previous lectures. As a remedy, I started to take five to ten minutes before class to review previous lecture notes. This helped me understand lesson material better and even prepared me better for when it was time to begin studying for exams. 


When I study, I love listening to music. I have found that when I am working on mathematics problems, music can help me find my groove and knock it out. My go-to genre for studying is Motown or Soft Rock. Another thing that I learned about myself is that reading over notes is not an adequate way to study. Rather I learn and memorize material much better when I teach it to others. I began studying in groups and quickly learned that collaborative study is my niche. I saw my confidence and understanding of the material increase along with my grades. I also started finding study spaces around campus that I call home. The School of Social Work is one of my go-to spots to study. The decor and artwork are visually appealing, and everyone who goes to study there is dedicated to their academics. I also find myself studying harder when it is in the SSW.


Up Early and Save Your Weekends | Rocco Albanese


Since high school, my study drill has gone through some alterations. I recall a time when I didn’t begin my homework until midnight. Those days are long gone. As I entered college, I realized that I needed to approach studying a bit differently. Instead of being a night owl and skipping mornings, I forced myself to wake up earlier and go to sleep earlier. Now, I try to get all of my studying and homework done before noon every day, which gives me time in the afternoon to pursue other interests. 


Overall, I love hanging out with people and having fun on the weekends. However, during the week I prefer to study and work out alone. I like to maintain a good balance between alone time and social activities. My personal favorite snack is Hot Fries, although I try to stay away from them if I can help myself. I listen to a diverse range of music, sometimes I’ll switch on some Hip Hop, other times classic music, sometimes even country music. I really enjoy listening to Frank Sinatra.  


Recitiation & Practice with Classmates | Nancy Chen


I used to enjoy studying alone in pure silence. As an Organizational Studies student, I had access to the 8th floor of Weiser Hall and loved studying there in a private room until late at night. While studying away locked in a room might sound a little miserable, I found myself most productive when there was no music, no sounds, and no distractions. However, this year, I tried that same method and was quickly met with closed eyes on the tables or hours of scrolling through Instagram reels. Needless to say, I was not productive whatsoever, so I quickly changed my study location and realized that while I still needed to study in a relatively quiet environment, I also needed people around me. I am less likely to be unproductive when I see others being productive around me and you will not catch me sleeping (because my best friend once took a picture of me napping on the table, which scared me).

I retain information best when studying for exams by reciting them out loud and doing practice problems. If I know someone who is also taking the class, I usually study with them. We would teach each other and simplify concepts into funny acronyms. If I had to get through a long reading, I would reward myself with study breaks and snacks. My best study snack is chocolate or seaweed, but I have to be careful with snacking at night because I just binge eat all the snacks! Sometimes, when I am unmotivated to study any longer, I would go cycling at the gym as a break. By the time I finish my workout, I feel like a new person with so much more energy to take on more study grinding.


Evolving Habits (From a Sixth Year Student) | Lorna Dunn

You’d think by my sixth year at U of M I would have a study plan nailed down, but in reality I truly don’t (and that’s okay!). That’s not to say that I don’t study, trust me I do, but rather my habits have continuously evolved over the past few years, and still do even today. I find that I am constantly adding new techniques to my study sessions and am always on the lookout for better ways to retain all the information. Whether it is basic flashcards, fill in the blanks, or reading something over and over until it is ingrained in my mind, I have tried it all. Although, the one study resource I continuously come back to, my tried and true, are my flashcards. Paper or electronic, my flashcards have been the biggest contributor to my success throughout school so far. If I had one suggestion to give regarding flashcards, it is to not let a large set intimidate you. Break them up! I pick 10 cards at a time and study those 10 over and over again until I have them nailed. Once I’m done, it’s on to the next 10. This method has done me wonders in shortening the time of my study sessions, while simultaneously teaching me the content more thoroughly.

It’s okay to not feel like you have this whole studying thing down, just keep trying new methods! College is a time for trial and error; learn from your failures and celebrate all your successes. And above all, the greatest resource in studying is sleep. Don’t ever sacrifice sleep for studying. Studying is important, but you and your health are greater than that.

Project Planning | Maddie Gaudet


When I have an exam to study for, I usually like to break up lecture slides/textbook chapters over the course of about a week. I personally find that I retain the information much better when I study over time rather than cramming the night before. I also like to create acronyms and connect exam material to life experiences to remember it more easily. As someone who has experienced the School of Information as an undergrad and now as a grad student, I noticed my classes have become increasingly more project-based. With this, I have learned to fine-tune project planning. This could involve spreadsheets for timelines, project documentation, delegating parts of a project in advance, et cetera.   


I like to make studying bearable by supplementing with crunchy snacks like popcorn and background jazz. If I listen to anything with lyrics or any of my favorite music I get distracted quickly (lol). I also choose to study with friends where there is a good balance between talking and studying. My favorite spots to study are the League, Sweetwaters, M36, and the LSA Building. When I’m at home or in a quiet place, I like to listen to, which replicates the light chatter of a coffee shop :)


Finding Your Environment | Pearl Thianthai


Through trial and error, I have found my ideal study session — a clean space with multiple outlets, good lighting, and a quiet environment. I love to study at the fishbowl by the MacBooks or Hatcher Reference Room, especially during the day as natural lighting helps me focus better. Sometimes, I would go to the Hatcher stacks if I needed a deep-concentration environment. As an architecture major, I have recently gotten my own studio desk at the Taubman Building; this helps me focus better when I need to do architecture-related work like sketching or modeling.  

I usually create a checklist of all the tasks I have to complete and plan what I should do at a particular time of the day, using Google Calendar. I prefer to study alone or with one other person as I usually get distracted easily. I always grab a vanilla sweet cream cold brew from Starbucks or mango green tea from Sharetea and a couple of snacks including grapes and Cheetos to keep me productive. A noise-cancellation headphone is essential — classical piano is perfect for reading or writing while R&B works better for me with other lowkey work. I always turn on do not disturb and use an app called “Forest” to help me focus as it limits me from using my phone (ps. you can also plant trees with your friends!). Somewhere with high accessibility to the water fountain and the bathroom is also important.