June 9, 2023

Taylor Daily Press

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Five pitfalls students should avoid

Coffee shakes, opening your course at 3am the day before an exam: It can happen to any student, but almost everyone will agree that it’s not a good way to study. What other pitfalls can you avoid during the exam period?

Kelly Van Dugenbroek

Stay within your comfort zone

The block is not comfortable. You don’t see your friends much, you sit behind a window melting away as the temperatures outside finally warm, and you’re haunted by dreams of the one test question you never knew the answer to. The temptation in these circumstances to grab any straw that feels familiar is great. However, on the topic, it is better not to do so.

“Students believe that the material they still recognize from the lesson is already in their minds,” says Tyne Hoff, researcher at the Experience Center for Effective Learning at Thomas More University of Applied Science. But this is not necessarily the case. Sometimes, this recognition creates the illusion of competence. Instead of just learning the words or endlessly re-reading the text, you should test yourself, for example, take a piece of paper with you at that moment, write key words in the margins, and after half an hour try to explain these words yourself.

Study only in writing or orally

Everyone likes to feel unique. But when it comes to how we study, we fall far short of what we think. It is a myth that everyone has their own way of studying better. “Research shows that there is no such thing as a ‘picture thinker’ or a ‘word thinker,'” says Hoff. “You may prefer to study orally or in writing, but that doesn’t mean you handle the material better.”

In fact, the combination of the two would help most brains retain knowledge. Mind maps, or concept maps, are widely praised tools for this: “They help you visually draw lines between subject elements that belong to each other,” says educational educator Wouter Smits (Erasmus University Rotterdam). “Our brain works in similar schemes, so it can process materials better.”

Made a very good summary

We discuss this predicament here for anyone who has purchased pastel fluorescent pens. Or a four-color ballpoint pen—no, not the standard model, but the one with light blue, purple, and light green ink. And certainly for those who watched TikTok videos of other students that showed off their aesthetic abstract and thus felt compelled to throw the entire page in the paper trash after crossing out a clerical error.

Abstract preparation should not be a pre-study stage. “It really has to be part of the learning process,” says Hoff. “The idea is that you reshape the subject. If you copy it blindly from your book or focus on drawing the margin as straight as possible, it’s a waste of time.” Purchasing an abstract from another student – or obtaining an abstract via ChatGTP – is not recommended for the same reason.

Compare your schedule with others more often

Yes, Lisa from the statistics group is already bragging in the community chat group about how many pages she learned that day. But no, this does not mean that your learning method is ineffective. Those who feel better about not being late for their books until about noon are encouraged to do so. “It’s a good idea to take your biorhythms into account during the study period,” says study supervisor Kaat Terryn (VUB). “If you know you can’t get up at eight normally, don’t plan it that way. Start a little later and go a little longer.” Please note: staying up all night does not fit anyone’s rhythm and is therefore never a good idea.

But even though we all have our own rhythm, blocking out together can be a good idea. Seeing the study makes the study: growing in popularity Study with meYouTube videos prove that many people have already understood this. For ten hours, a student, sometimes on the other side of the world, films how he does schoolwork from behind his desk and sometimes just takes a break. For those who don’t have access to the library, a video like this can be a good way to focus. “Although, as a student, you should feel yourself when you need a break,” Terrin says. “Something like that varies from person to person and day to day.”


Studying with background music or taking a walk in the park: Some students swear by it. “A lot has been written lately, particularly about moving learning,” says Smits. “If you sit in the same position for too long, your body literally falls asleep. And so it’s best to stand up from time to time or study on an exercise bike. But there’s little evidence that it really helps. If your walk in the park is nothing but distractions, don’t fool around.” Yourself that you learn better there.”

The same goes for music: If you really lose motivation without it, choose smart. Don’t go to the new record of your favorite artist whose lyrics you want to understand. A CD or DVD player is preferred. Since all the experts agree on one thing: even in airplane mode, a smartphone is the most distracting study companion you can choose.

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