Adjusting study techniques

Natasha Evans in a lab coatNatasha Evans worked as a coop student for the University of Waterloo Open Science program.

 One of the biggest shocks that I experienced while starting university was having to alter my study techniques. During my first year, I began to realize that the study methods I used throughout high school were no longer working for me. For each upcoming test and exam, I would write out and memorize the content, word for word, to ensure that I was fully prepared. This technique worked wonders for me in high school; however, I found that in university there was just too much content to fully memorize everything in time for the exam. In most cases, I would be able to review only the first half of the course content and would have to rush through the second half to ensure that I had at least looked at all the material in time for the exam. This often led to poor results, as I lacked a true understanding of the course content. 

To overcome this challenge, I slowly began to experiment with all sorts of different study techniques to find the one that was the best fit for me. Instead of just writing out the material verbatim, I began doing practice exams, making notes, reading out-loud and truly trying to obtain a better grasp of the content than I had before. I also began paying more attention in lectures and made an effort to ask the professor questions whenever I was unclear about a concept. 

Eventually, I came to realize it was far better to make notes and understand the material, rather than just straight-up memorize the content. This was an unexpectedly long journey. It took me two years to let go of the study techniques I had been using throughout my high school days. However, this exploration ultimately helped me grow as a student; I learned to move away from my old study methods and discover new ways to improve my learning and my exam results.

Therefore, having gone through such an experience, the best advice that I can give to future university students is to not be afraid to take risks and to be okay with trying new things. These challenges are great opportunities for personal growth and development and may lead to many new accomplishments in the future.