Four steps for academic success: Prepare your schedule, materials, body and mind...
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I. Prepare your schedule.
Good time management is imperative. Take a seminar or workshop on time management or read, and utilize, a time management book or tape. Begin to incorporate good time management skills into your life. Begin to study for that test on the evening of the first day of class.
II. Prepare your materials.
Go to every class! Take careful notes. Rewrite your notes after each class and review them all at least once a week (daily, for more difficult classes). Keep your notes in an organized notebook and do additional research on concepts that aren't clear to you (keep this additional information in your notebook as well). Read all written materials thoroughly and take careful notes or highlight all important facts or concepts. Review these at least weekly. Create flashcards for more difficult concepts or facts, and review them weekly. Discuss questions and problem areas with your professor or T.A. on a regular basis. Participate in class-you'll remember more if you're involved in the process of learning. Take advantage of or create study groups for more difficult classes. Work through every homework assignment carefully.
III. Prepare your body.
Be rested, fed, and fit! Eat three meals a day of reasonably nutritious food and avoid excessive caffeine or sugar. Exercise regularly.
IV. Prepare your mind.
Watch out for negative or critical self-talk before a test (or at any other time). Dispute it! Argue with it! Out-talk it! Go to a counselor for help with this, if necessary, because critical self-talk can affect performance tremendously! Watch out for catastrophic thinking-"If I fail this test, get a C, etc., I'll be a failure, have no future, end up on the streets, and so forth." This sort of thinking is self-defeating, and really can impair your performance. It also isn't realistic. Change the usual way that you think about tests and studying. Put grades and tests in perspective. Even an 'F' on a test is not really the end of the world.
To help clear you mind and find necessary balance within yourself and your life, do a relaxation or meditation exercise daily (don't knock it until you've tried it!). You might try doing some relaxation exercises before tests. A counselor can help you with learning relaxation strategies or guided imagery to enhance test-taking.
Avoid procrastination and 'just do it!' Don't wait to be in the mood, or clean your apartment first. Break your tasks up into small pieces, reward yourself after each bit, and get to it. Develop your goals-for the semester, the year, the next five years. Make goals realistic, definable, and related to your studies. Make sure they're your goals-not mom's, dad's, or your friend's. And don't forget to re-evaluate your study plan regularly. Throw out what doesn't work for you, and keep looking for solutions to problems areas. Reward yourself for a job well done.
In summary, careful preparation of your schedule, study materials, your body and your mind is imperative for achieving good results on tests and in your studies. A counselor from EWU Counseling and Psychological Services may be able to assist you through major obstacles such as anxiety, depression, procrastination, and lack of appropriate goal-setting. The Academic Support Center (509-359-2487) on campus is another resource available to students struggling with study skills, test anxiety, etc. Disability Support Services (509-359-6871) is available to assist those with disabilities impacting their participation in education and learning.