Like most people, I find studying to be a complete and utter bore. Not only do I not like doing it, but I also don’t know how to do it. You’re probably thinking, “that’s weird, aren’t you the top of your class?” and “don’t you have a full-ride scholarship” Yes, I am, I do, and for those who don’t like to or know how to study, I’m going to share with you how you can not-study to success.

What is studying?

Now, what is studying? According to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, study, or studying is defined as the activity or process of learning about something by reading, memorizing facts, attending school, etc. Let’s go back to that word, memorizing. Memorization and repetition are the keys to studying. The whole goal is to remember course content so that when assessed on that particular subject, you are able to accurately answer questions or regurgitate that information in essays. But how do you do this? Well reading a textbook passage over and over is boring and does not help you memorize any information. While you read, your brain isn’t being stimulated because what you’re reading is content you have already learned. Imagine your brain being another person, he’s saying, “Tell me something I don’t know.” So rule numero uno (<—Spanish studying):

Stimulate your brain

You can make yourself more interested and interactive in your studying by playing games, either online or with my personal favorite, index cards. Index cards are very inexpensive, especially this time of the year, and can be used to study a variety of different ways. You can make flashcards to quiz yourself on vocabulary, or write down dates and events and try putting them in chronological order. Remember the matching games when you were little? You can use index cards and this method for vocabulary as well or for matching dates or names with events or life-achievements. This is all a form of studying since it requires you to remember information you learned in class or lectures, yet it’s a lot more fun than rereading the same paragraphs again and again. If you’re more of a technology type of person, Quizlet has online versions of these methods.
Now maybe games aren’t your things and you don’t want the extra chore of copying down information. Don’t worry, I have a couple of techniques for you as well. Right before a big test or exam, sometimes teachers will give you a study-guide or outline of the course-work from the past semester. I’ve come to realize as I get older, teachers do this less and less, especially in college. Professors and even teachers aren’t bound by law to make these things, so try making them yourself! Rule numero dos:

Make your own study sheets

When you make your own study-guide or outline, it forces you to review your notes, recall information, and maybe even crack open a textbook once or twice. You’re reviewing information without even thinking about it because your brain is stimulated and focused on the study guide. I like this method also because you can organize information in a way that makes sense to you as well as paraphrasing the original content so it is easier for you to understand. You could also possibly make a quick buck by having these guides for sale to the rest of the class. If that’s not legal at your school, you didn’t get the idea from me.
At this point if neither of the previous ideas work for you, tough luck it’s late and I’m out of ideas. Just kidding. So maybe you’re one of those students who has online class, your book is online, you have Skype lectures, and your notes are typed. If you’re one of these students, you’re probably used to printing out worksheets and PDF files, so this method is going to work for you.

Hypothetically, you have a final exam coming up, and you need a way to quickly, and efficiently review all of your typed notes. Here’s what you do: open up the document and go to the review tab, open a comment bar. Summarize information into smaller chunks to make it easier for memorizing, and make connections between those chunks. Rule numero tres:

Take notes of your notes

When you add the comment bar, it separates your summarizations from the rest of the document and makes it easier to locate and read. You can type in the annotations or print out the document and write the notes in, something I recommend because physical writing helps with memorization. If you don’t have a printer or your printer is thirsting for some ink, or maybe you just prefer this method but you handwrite your notes, don’t fret. You can make your own faux comment bar by folding your paper on the side before taking your notes (think Cornell notes without the bottom section). Either write in this section with a different, brightly colored pen or on sticky notes to make the summaries stand out.

And There You Have It!

That’s pretty much it. That is how you not study. If you have a method you didn’t see, or you use personally, comment below what it is. I also wanted to share how I came up with these studying methods, I based them on my fundamentals of memorization which are:

  • read it
  • write it
  • say it
  • repeat until memorized

Studying should really be called repetition. Once you do something enough times, you will commit it to memory and it becomes second nature. Anywhere that is not America, you will hear studying being called revising, a term that I keep in mind in my own studies. As I mentioned before, stimulating the brain as you review information is important, and revising notes, as opposed to studying them, is more beneficial. Just like when you revise essays, you learn from your mistakes and improve skills, allowing you to be more knowledgeable in a particular subject.