We all sometimes feel like studying is a never-ending struggle. This can especially pertain to first-year students, who are also facing a new education system. So for our first blog post, we have decided to give our first-years 5 actually useful, UvA-specific tips for efficient studying!
Tip #1: Figure out useful resources
The course syllabus is your best friend! Carefully read it through before the first lecture. Furthermore, pay attention to what the lecturer is saying in the introduction. They usually tell you their expectations, as well as how to make sure you pass the course. Based on that, you can easily figure out what you need to focus on material-wise.
Besides, never neglect old exams! They are the ideal way of finding out what is required from your end, as well as how thorough you have to be while studying. And, they also serve as great last-minute preparation!
A great way to get a detailed overview of the books, articles and slides is by using a course summary by our partners Athena or TentamenTrainingen. They also include additional exercises for every learning objective to help you practice.
Tip #2: Make sure to create a schedule
And also make sure it’s realistic. By drawing up an unrealistically packed schedule, you will be putting too much pressure on yourself. Courses are often divided into different topics each week, so use this structure to your own advantage. Finish with one topic before progressing to the next one.
A method that we would recommend to help keep you alert is the so-called Pomodoro Technique. In essence, this means that you study for 25 minutes and then give yourself a 5 minute break. After the fourth 25-minute session you take a longer break of 15 minutes.
Tip #3: Start on time!
The study pace at UvA can be very challenging. If you start lagging behind, catching up means giving up a lot of free time. This can easily be avoided by following the course according to the course outline. So essentially, to keep your exam week as relaxed as possible, make sure to start on time! Starting early will give you enough time to revise, making you feel well-prepared and confident, and it is guaranteed to lower your stress levels.
Furthermore, by going deeper into the course materials yourself, you develop a sense of logic, instead of just plainly memorizing the content.
Tip #4: Avoid distractions
Put your phone on flight-mode to avoid temptations of scrolling through Instagram and TikTok for hours. Lose the TV remote and forget your Netflix password. Make study time only study time!
Most importantly, a clear workspace helps clear the mind. Make sure that you have an allocated study area, so that you don’t end up reading your articles in bed. Keeping your desk free of distractions helps to direct your attention to the course materials. Also make sure there is enough light and that there is a nice room temperature, so you can concentrate well.
Tip #5: Make sure to create time for yourself
Schedule something that makes you happy, so you don’t end up overwhelmed. After you have crossed something off of your to-do list, make sure to reward yourself. Keep in mind that the reward should be proportional to the amount of work you put in. Whether this means taking a bike ride through the city, spending time with your friends, or just simply remembering your Netflix password, it will help you stay sane through the despair of studying.