How do I study for an exam?
“Time management is essential,” says Lorena Ortiz Cabrero, a third-year student at University College Maastricht and member of the Peer Point service (see box) in the previous academic year. “Start studying on time and make a realistic schedule. Studying with flashcards and mind maps works best. Write down a concept on one side of the flashcard and the explanation – or whatever you want to remember – on the other side. Make a stack and test yourself. A big mind map works best if you want to remember and see how theories are linked. I often have students coming in who know the different theories by heart, but don't know how they are linked.”
Where do I study?
“In general, I would recommend studying in the library or in one of the other study places, because there is really a study vibe there. Only if people tell me that they can’t concentrate because they are always talking with friends, I recommend studying at home. Keep in mind that at home there are some limitations: You can’t always reach the online databases at home and you probably won’t have as many books as in the library, ha ha.”
“When the library is full, you can go to plenty of other study places: Tapijn, Student Service Centre, UM Sports, the faculties and of course the public library. I find it hard to imagine that you wouldn't be able to find a study place at all.”
How do I write a paper?
“Don’t start writing immediately. There is a research and a writing phase. Do your research thoroughly. If you start writing too soon, you’ll miss parts of your arguments or it simply won’t make sense. Also, it’s very important to keep track of your research. Simply writing down which articles you’ve looked at, with a hyperlink, will do. If you want, you can add a small summary.
Tips for the actual writing process would be to always keep you research question in mind. Every paragraph should somehow relate to your research question and only use one idea per paragraph. Be specific, not too broad. Furthermore, it’s very handy to open a tab with words that are linked to make your text run smoothly and a tab for synonyms, so your text won’t get boring by using the same words over and over again.”
How to relax?
“When you have finished your scheduled work stop and do something relaxing. Try not to relax in the library or other study places. Go somewhere where there’s no study atmosphere. I personally enjoy watching Netflix, reading (unrelated to the uni), going to the cinema, listening to some music or you could go to an event, there is always something to do in Maastricht.”
How do I prevent stress?
“Before you start you should have a very clear overview of what you need to do. Make a realistic schedule and if you fall behind, reorganize and prioritize. Accept that you cannot read everything about a topic. Skim the abstracts and conclusions of the articles that you have to read and pick out the most important parts.”
I got a 4 for my exam, now what?
“Go talk to your teacher and discuss your study method. Find out what your weakness is and work on that. In my experience, teachers are happy to help you change your approach.”
What is the biggest pitfall?
“Definitely procrastination. If you don’t understand the material, go to your teacher or one of your fellow students. You will not get it by just waiting. If you hate the subject, see if you can drop the course and do a different one. If not, you have to plough through it. Just begin, there is no other way.”