Her Hacks — Studiously hacked

Ah, school days.

Whether you’re heading in for that first year or a returning veteran of the be-lockered hallways, the return to school is an exciting, sometimes stressful time.

If there’s one thing that’s especially difficult to get back into the swing of, it’s studying.

Good study habits are the work of an entire academic career, evolving in time and being refined as new techniques present themselves.

And, what better way to present them than by taking a look through some of the Her Hacks Team’s time-tested study hacks?

Short answer: There is no better way.

First up on the block are two techniques that got us through many a history exam filled with dates, names and places of the long dead.

The first is the all-time classic of study buddies. It’s not only useful, it’s fun to say.

A study buddy is useful on a whole host of levels. First, you can keep each other accountable. Intensive Instagramming is much more difficult when your friend is sitting on the other side of the table trying to quiz you on what a hypotenuse is.

Second, that study buddy might just have a clearer view on some of the subject matter than you, an invaluable resource when you’re not quite clear on the order of King Henry VIII’s wives.

Third, is the second reason a study buddy is so effective: They let you teach what you’ve learned. Studying too often means pouring over notes or books in an effort to “cram” as much in the ol’ brain pan as possible. But, when you have another person there, you can play the role of the teacher for them. Not only do they get a dose of the material, but also teaching material is one of the quickest ways to become familiar with a subject.

If a buddy of the study variety isn’t available, there’s always the old standby of recopying your notes before a test. This one requires you to have taken decent notes in the first place (which can be an art unto itself: tinyurl.com/y4mmeqkd). One nice little trick, courtesy of BuzzFeed (tinyurl.com/y3npqsks) is to take notes in class as through you’re taking them for someone else. It’s a mental trick to keep yourself accountable to … well, yourself.

But if you have a notebook full of (informational) gold, recopying those notes is a great way to force yourself into meticulously re-reading — and hopefully recommitting to memory — the lesson.

But how is one to study one’s notes meticulously when there are so many cat videos and “Storming Area 51” memes to see?

Enter the productivity blocker. While the older members of the Her Hacks Team might not have had to deal with such a problem — after all, there was no such thing as an MTV blocker back in the day — in 2019 it’s almost a necessity.

After all, as of press time, Netflix, “Fortnite,” Wikipedia, SoundCloud, Pandora, WebMD, the IMdB trivia section for “Avengers: Endgame,” the entirety of “Star Trek,” “World of Tanks,” Twitter, your gramma’s collection of vacation pictures and much, much more is all easily available via a laptop or a smartphone.

Imagine staring that down while trying to write a report on “Where the Red Fern Grows.”

Spyzie has a list of blockers at tinyurl.com/yxzpkrxv that includes some basic free options as well as more fully featured paid apps.

Speaking of online productivity, there are a few options out there that can help you tip over the edge from C+ to A-.

One such option is using an interactive flash card app or website.

A particularly popular option is Quizlet (quizlet.com), which has tools for both students and teachers. And, it’s available as a site and an app.

If Quizlet isn’t doing it for you, check out this list (tinyurl.com/y9fkj543) and you’re bound to find the flashcards to suit your study.

Another invaluable online tool that can help you get through a test unscathed is taking advantage of practice tests. Test-Guide.com is one such site, but there’s a nearly infinite variety of options out there, especially if you’re taking a standardized test like the ACT, LSAT or SAT.

Something you’ll want to pay attention to no matter whether you’re studying online or off is something known as the “forgetting curve.” Much like the better-known “learning curve,” the forgetting curve takes into account research about the brain and memory and can help you recall information better. At its most basic, this means reviewing material multiple times for a small amount of time every day. That can mean reading a text book, reviewing notes or listening to a lecture. Any way you go about it, you’re convincing your brain that the material is important info that needs to be retained for easy access.

If you want a far more technical and complete look at the curve, tune your browser to tinyurl.com/yxakpgnr for Grow the Engineering’s article (with math and graphs and everything!) on the subject.

Finally, and this might be the most difficult of all study tips because of the self-control it takes, don’t forget to take breaks. It can be a challenge to force yourself into taking a little time to decompress, walk around and maybe grab a snack, but doing so has been proven to help with recall (tinyurl.com/ybq2wybk).

Just remember, a break from studying per day keeps the failing grade away.

Anthony Frenzel writes for the Telegraph Herald. Send your hacks, tips, suggestions, DIY thoughts, inspirations and cobbled -together-machinations to tony.frenzel@thmedia.com or share your pins with me on Pinterest (Anthony Frenzel), and you might just be featured in an upcoming edition of her Hacks.

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