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Become a Star Student:

Tips and Tricks For Staying Academically Focused

The hardest part about New Year’s Resolutions is definitely not writing them, but keeping them. It seems as though our bad habits always find a way of coming back to haunt us. You may start off the new semester with the goal of doing all of your readings on time, and then it’s only 2 weeks into school that you find yourself drowning in readings. School has a tricky way of dumping everything on you all at once (aka midterm season at McGill as always), so staying on top of your studying is pertinent. Do you have academic goals for this semester that you REALLY want to keep? We’ve brainstormed some surefire ways to stay smart, studious and scholarly year round!

1. Start off the semester organized, and fill your calendar during the first week of classes. All professors should have uploaded the syllabi for all of your classes to MyCourses by now, so use them! Whether you use a wall calendar, a whiteboard or the calendar on your computer: input the information well before the day approaches and set reminders. This way, you can plan your time accordingly and no assignment will ever sneak up on you or catch you off guard.

2. Share the reading workload. Do you have a class or several with what appears to be piles of readings per week? Find some friends in the class and make a reading schedule. Set a due date for each reading to be done and summarized, and then exchange notes. This will ease your workload, keep you up to date and ready for weekly lectures, AND encourage discussion between you and your peers.

3. Don’t miss lectures. It sounds easy, but it can get pretty difficult. If the lectures are recorded or the slides are put up to MyCourses, this can make actually attending lecture seem kind of redundant. But just because the information is available to you, doesn’t mean you will ever actually learn it. If you miss lecture, make sure to schedule time into your week to either study the slides or watch the recordings so you don’t fall behind.

4. Have a “free day.” Knowingly setting aside 1 day out of the week for rest and purely non-academic activities can make the intensity of the rest of the week seem worth it. Let’s say you decide Sunday will be your “free day”: now you have something to look forward to and studying on the other days will seem a lot more mandatory (so you can actually relax on Sunday)!

5. Don’t skip the gym. I know it can seem like the wrong use of your time to head to the gym when you have easily 4 hours of work to do in the same day, but it’s absolutely not! Going to the gym, even if it’s for an hour, will increase your heart rate that in turn improves blood flow to the brain. This boosts your memory and overall brain function. Your 4 hours of work will be a LOT easier if you do it after a workout! Promise!

The term can seem to be moving slowly, but before you know it, you won’t have an ounce of free time. Don’t be the one to get left behind – use these tips to your advantage and have the best academic term you possibly can!


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