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FROSH 2023: How to study when your mind is still on the summer

By Francesca Schoettler, September 5 2023—

To the freshman who stumbled upon this page, you did it! Completing high school is no small feat, and your dedication, perseverance and hard work have undoubtedly paid off. Now you find yourself standing on the threshold of an exciting yet nerve-wracking new chapter: university. Yet, amidst the bubbling excitement, there’s a palpable sense of trepidation that many of us can’t shake off — the looming dread of the study grind that lies ahead. Don’t worry, the mere thought of immersing yourself in stacks of textbooks, wrestling with intricate concepts and enduring the weight of relentless exams used to send a shiver down my spine too. At least it did until I learned how to prepare for it.

On this page, you will find a number of helpful tips, tools and strategies that I used to get through my undergraduate degree. However, no two study-ers are the same so take these suggestions with a grain of salt. Studying has never been ,nor will it ever be, a one-size-fits-all predicament. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t know what works best for you yet, take the time to explore your options and be flexible. You might need to adjust your routine and think outside of the box in order to accommodate a certain course or professor. With all of this in mind, let’s begin.

General Tips

  • Don’t cram

Cramming doesn’t mean that you’ve truly learned the material. Even though you may perform well on the test you might find yourself struggling later down the road when it comes to the final exam. Cramming has no benefits when it comes to long-term learning and retention. However, it’s easier said than done so don’t be too hard on yourself if you find yourself reviewing material last minute — life happens, all you can do is try your best.

  • Reading is not the same as studying

Stop and ask yourself, “what am I reading and how can I apply it?” By taking the time to actively connect to the material you’re reading you’ll retain more when it’s time to remember that particular chapter.

  • Space out when you study

Try to complete a task for each class each day. Start small, begin with 15–30 minutes a day and then increase it the closer you get to exam day. Spreading out when you study is a very impactful strategy as it can help you retain much more information long term and understand it in depth — as opposed to cramming for an exam the night before.

  • Don’t be afraid to switch it up

If something isn’t working, don’t keep at it — explore another method. Practice problems might work great for technical courses such as economics or mathematics but they might not be as applicable in your English classes. Instead, you might need to consider writing flashcards or using another memorization-based technique. Tailor your study method to the courses you are taking.

  • Plan ahead 

Scheduling is a great tool to help you stay on top of your deadlines. Planning ahead allows you to spread your study schedule and study for shorter periods of time each day. That way you can keep studying, attend all of your classes and work on your assignments without having to stop and drop everything just to cram. 

  • Ask for help

There’s nothing wrong with needing a little bit of help so make sure you ask for it.


  • Quizlet 

Quizlet is an awesome online free resource that lets you create your own interactive flashcards. You can also browse through a number of available study sets that have already been created.

  • Pomodoro method timer

Includes a number of 25-minute cycles which are followed by five-minute breaks. The Pomodoro technique helps you manage your time and improve your concentration. A great strategy when it comes to avoiding the traps of procrastination.


  • Explain the material in your own words

Teaching the material you’ve learned, either to your friends and family or to yourself is a great learning strategy. Reviewing course content in your own words can help you retain it better as well as develop a well-rounded understanding of what you’ve learned.

  • Practice, practice, practice!

Especially when it comes to more technical courses, practice sets are an awesome way to expose yourself to a number of problems that might show up on your exam. However, what you practice might not always be on the test. Be flexible, ask your professor for problem sets ahead of time and don’t get stuck on reviewing just one concept — make sure you are comfortable (or as comfortable as you can be) with all of the testable concepts.

I’ll leave you with one last nugget of advice — make sure you take breaks and reward yourself. Just like when you go on a run, your stamina doesn’t last forever. The same can be applied to studying — studying can be both a mentally and emotionally exhausting process. Giving yourself the time to rest and recover is important, and so is treating yourself to something you really enjoy.

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