My apologies for being absent last week! I spent almost every day working on assignments late into the night, which left little time for creative writing in the form of blogging. I have another busy week, but I hope to find the time to come around more frequently.
As I was knee-deep in studying this weekend, I thought it might be fun to share my favorite tips and tricks when it comes to how I study. I am always curious about how other students study and organize their work in hopes that I will learn a completely new way of doing things. So why not share my “schoolgirl secrets” and hopefully inspire you to do things differently. Man of these apps are really versatile and can be used for non-school related activities as well.
These days, students rely heavily on technology to get the grades they want. Normally, I would think this is a bad thing but there are so many amazing apps and websites I’ve used that have really helped me out. Here are a few of them:
This is the real reason I have less time to blog. I first discovered this app the week before finals last semester and it’s the #1 technological tool I use to increase my productivity.
How does it work? Basically, it allows you to block the websites that distract you the most for a certain amount of time. You type in the websites you want blocked, set the timer, and viola! This way you can still use your internet if you need to write a paper or study notecards (see #3), but won’t be distracted by Facebook, Bloglovin’, etc. As much as it pains me to put my own blog on my blacklist, it has to be done sometimes.
Often times I will get the urge to write a blog post real quickly, but I know I shouldn’t be blogging since I have an exam the next day so I set the timer on SelfControl for a long time to prevent myself from doing it. We all know writing a post “real quickly” isn’t possible, and time is a precious commodity for this gal.
(Note: this is an app for your computer, I haven’t come across anything like this for the iPad yet)
2. PDF Notes
This is easily the most used app on my iPad. This is where I store all of my PowerPoints, notes, syllabi, and whatever else for each of my classes. This app saves me from having to kill a small forest printing out all my PowerPoints, or risk losing it amongst the thousands of saved files on the desktop of my computer. When my friends ask me what apps I use for school this is always the first one I tell them to get. I know there a similar apps in the App Store, but this one is simple to use and stores each of my classes in different categories.
Once I import my documents from my Dropbox, I am able to flip through them and write, highlight, or add text notes to the slides.
Quizlet is a great website for creating notecards to study from. Gone are the days of the huge stacks of white lined notecards. (Hint- if you’re still using that method you should really give this website a try and save a few trees). Quizlet allows me to type my notecards (much faster than handwriting them) and then I can study them on my computer or download to my iPad or iPhone. They even have different ways of studying the flash cards in the form of games to help you learn them more thoroughly (see below for the “scatter” game I like).
The best part about this website? You might not have to make any notecards yourself!
Let’s say you are in a general class like Anatomy & Physiology or General Chemistry. These are classes that are offered at every school so chances are someone out there has already made a flashcard set on the topic you are studying. By simply searching within Quizlet you can study from other students’ sets on the same topics. I usually make my own set, study it well, then search for other sets to study from to gain a different perspective on the material.
4. Magoosh GRE
A few of you have asked for my advice on how to do well on the GRE. I am happy to share this website with you because I firmly believe studying from the practice questions and lessons on there was the reason I was able to improve my scores. If you can get over the fact that it has a slightly bizarre name, then you will have all the tools you need to do well on this test. You have to pay a fee to access all the videos, but there are many free ones and they have free vocabulary flashcards to study from.
I’m a visual learner, so studying from a GRE prep book only got me so far. This website has hundreds and hundreds of practice questions, learning modules, and tips on strategies. This might sound odd but all the tests I take in school are on paper with a pencil and scantron. This is the way it’s been my whole life. I knew taking a 4 hour exam on a computer where I couldn’t underline or circle anything in the reading comprehension passages was going to be a challenge. This website helps you get a feel for taking tests at a computer in order to practice timing and pacing.
All of the practice questions on there have video explanations of the answers, which really helped me learn the thought process and strategy behind tackling the GRE. When you answer at least 50 questions from each section (verbal & math) they will give you an estimate of what your GRE score would be. I can speak from experience that they are very accurate when it comes to predicting your score.
Coursesaver is the best resource if you are struggling in chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, physics, etc. This is not a website I use anymore, but it is such a great resource that I could not leave it out. I can say without a doubt this website is the reason why I passed organic chemistry. Back in the day (when I took general chemistry), this website was free. Unfortunately it isn’t anymore, but believe me when I say the fees are well worth it and will seem insignificant in the long run.
Funny story about how I came across this website….
Chad (the tutor on Coursesaver) was actually a tutor for the Chemistry department at Arizona State a few years ago. I had the privilege of attending his review sessions in person, but if there was one I couldn’t attend I simply watched his videos.
What makes this website so special? Chad is able to explain the most complex topics in such a simplified way. I can honestly say I have never come across anyone who can clearly explain anything the way he does. He really makes the concepts in chemistry understandable in the simplest way. Who would have thought I would ever say that?
What apps or websites do you like to use to increase productivity?
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