Those who want to successfully study and keep the standard period of study must, above all, be one thing: organized. A new environment, the shift from a structured school system to self-organized university life – all this poses some challenges for students in their first semesters. The study organization often goes under. The documents from lectures and seminars pile up and you do not know how to start learning … Of course it does not have to come that far. Therefore, read here how you can better organize your studies …
Tips for self-organization in the study
The perfect study organization is not a rocket science, rather a kind of basic system that you give yourself initially to give the everyday life of the next few years more structure and security. The course itself runs much smoother then – as we can confirm from our own experience and that of our former fellow students. For orientation and to read faster, we have put together the following tips and tricks for effective study in list form. It includes best practices for class preparation and follow-up, tips for making notes, recommendations for the exam phase, and tools and apps to make learning easier …
Tips for lectures
Even during the lecture, you can learn and save time by actively listening to the exam. This works like this:
Use lecture scripts (if available) and make your own notes in detail. Most students learn especially when writing. Just to emphasize keywords in finished transcriptions, by the way, brings nothing.
Do not write down every word of the professor, better: make keywords – and think, interpret and summarize while listening.
Work through (your) transcripts. This is for repetition and understanding.
Keep records sorted, best dated.
You can also call the lecturers for consultation. That is no shame, but rather beneficial. You step out of the shadows of your exam number.
Enter important dates such as enrollment or deadlines in the calendar, so you do not miss anything. This is especially true for freshers who lack the routine.
Form a learning AG. Studying with fellow students is not only more fun, you also keep the material better because you have to explain it to each other. And only those who really understood something can explain it.
Tips for the learning environment
Many students have to find their own way of working at the beginning of their studies. How to create a suitable learning environment:
Find a place where you feel comfortable.
For concentrated reading and learning it has to be a quiet environment.
If you can not find a quiet place, the reading room of the local library is your sanctuary. Apart from a bit of paper rustling and a little typing noise you will definitely have peace and quiet there.
Turn off smart phone and email to learn – even if it’s hard.
Choose your place of learning from a practical point of view: Are there, for example, accessible power sockets if you need power for the laptop?
If the learning materials allow, you can also move the place of learning outdoors into the fresh air – for example, a park.
Some people learn better with music. Experiment with different styles of music for different types of learning.
Even if it sounds absurd, some people learn optimally only when they are on the move. So if you find partout good learning environment for yourself, take a train and try it there.
Tips on learning methods
Successful learning is also a question of how. Do you prefer to work with transcripts or mind maps? Here are some suggestions and learning techniques:
Summarize important rules and insights on index cards. These are still a favored learning method for many students.
If you’re more visual, organize your stuff into mind maps or flowcharts.
If you need more structure, organize your notes and keywords better in lists.
Some people learn the most when you explain a topic to others. You can do that in study groups but also online in a blog. Side effect of blogging: You get feedback about the comments.
In order to control one’s own level of knowledge, the query by another person can be helpful.
To learn on the go, record your study material as an audio file or, if available, use podcasts on the topic.
Tips for the exam phase
The best remedy for test anxiety is the certainty of being well prepared. Proper learning works like this:
Create a learning plan for the daily and weekly workload.
Begin to get necessary literature in good time before the exams, otherwise others are faster and the knowledge is missing.
Determine your best times of day and use them for intensive learning and working phases.
Apply the so-called PQ4R method for the text works. It works like this:
Use flashcards with key words that you can quickly flip through in the evening just before falling asleep.
Think about possible exam questions (also tricky ones) and answer them.
For the exam, do not memorize everything at once. Take breaks.
Use frequent repetitions, but in different order and format.
Repeat the material in your study group to test and deepen your own knowledge.
PS: Do not forget the student and ID card as well as the exam registration. Best already in the bag the day before.
Tips for chores
Experience teaches that the first housework usually ends in chaos, number two and three succeed even more structured. Everything about housework, from finding a topic to creating it, can be found HERE. How to avoid typical mistakes:
- Create a writing and schedule.
- Be aware of your deadline rather to create a buffer.
- First, make an outline so as not to lose the thread.
- Let irrelevant topics be consistently removed for the question.
- Begin the literature search early.
If necessary, also consider the procurement period for interlibrary loan and plan for it.
Have the housework corrected by several people, ideally: different parts, otherwise the beginning will be well edited, but the rest will get worse because of the tiredness of the proofreaders.
Use the opportunity to show the professor the outline in advance so as not to overlook or write in the wrong direction.
Once the housework is done, give it away. Do not wait until the deadline. It would be too risky to miss the appointment.
Tips for semester abroad
Staying abroad opens up numerous opportunities for cultural experience and new perspectives. However, they also require a lot of preparation. A detailed checklist can be found HERE. The most important tips:
Plan the time for the semester abroad early – Rule of thumb: start organizing one year before.
If possible, work together with the local office abroad.
Determine if there are scholarships or other grants for your project. Apply in time!
Clarify in advance whether any coursework abroad will be recognized in Europe.
Think in advance of visa and vaccinations.
Find out about requirements for a possible extension of your stay. If it’s fun, it’s easier to spend a semester on it.