Quickie: Skip that Step!

“Quickies” is a new column on SotN for short or niche tips. These topics are interesting or important enough to warrant their own post, but are too short for a full length one. If you have a “quickie” you’d like to share, contact us! Enjoy! 

Efficiency is the key to being academically successful. What is efficiency in this case? It is putting in the least number of hours to learn the most amount of stuff. However, it’s hard to be efficient. Aside from distractions, there are often five million ways or resources you could study for a class. You could read the textbook, go over the notes, do the problem set, watch online videos, go to office hours, post on the online discussion board… If you don’t have time for all of these steps, what do you do?

You skip steps! Yes, really. The key is to be selective in choosing which steps to skip.

Strong students know this. They know (either intuitively or through trial and error) what works and what doesn’t. One of my friends always need to recopy/condense her notes before she can start studying in earnest. Another friend never does because it’s a waste of his time. This is also why some of your friends seem to only need to read the textbook or class notes in order to ace exams.

Know which steps actually contribute to your understanding and focus on those.

If, for example, you have an overwhelming amount of resources or ways to study for a course. First, try as many of the ways as possible to study within the first 2 weeks of class. Then eliminate what obviously doesn’t work. Continue using the rest and see if you can eliminate ways that aren’t as successful as other until you have a small handful before the midterms (or even finals). Then study hard using these extra effective strategies in order to ace that exam.


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