By Kate Dempsey
Hey guys! This blog post is going to be one on studying – how to avoid procrastination and tips on making learning easier. I’ll be mainly focusing on my own subjects – Irish, German, Politics, Sociology and History – but most of these tips and tricks can be carried over to whatever modules you do!
First off; languages. They’re an absolute pain to study for, because, what can you do really? You don’t know what literature or essay questions you’re going to get, and the grammar questions NEVER look similar in any way, shape or form to the examples in that massive grammar book you spent hours pulling your hair out over. My best advice is to just talk, and failing that, to listen. Meet up with your friends in class and have a casual conversation, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. The languages lab in UL offers this with a tutor in a group or on a one to one basis, and it’s an absolute life saver around exam time. Listening to TV shows and podcasts in your chosen language(s) is also a great help, and broadens your vocabulary without even having to try! Find something you’re interested in – Youtube is a goldmine for German beauty vloggers, for example – and listen to it regularly. Having an interest like this is something that can easily be brought up in your orals when you’re talking about study methods or even just your hobbies, and it’s always easier to chat about something you’re genuinely interested in, rather than talking about what you want to do with your life when you graduate, and having a full blown internal quarter life crisis within an eight minute oral.
History and Politics are mostly essay based, so my best piece of advice for these is UL’s writing centre. You can book appointments for 30 minutes or an hour at a time and get all the information you need on nailing your intro’s, conclusion’s and use of sources. You can also use it as a quiet spot to get a chunk of work done with no distractions. Note taking is helpful for a lot of people, so attend your lectures and bring a highlighter to make the really important bits stand out. Something you’ll come to realize when you’re sitting in a lecture hall is that copying the slides really isn’t enough – lecturers often just use the slides as a jumping point and simply talk about the really important bits. Focus on the person rather than the projector and jot down short notes rather than full sentences.
Sociology, while you usually have an essay assignment during the semester, is often a series of short questions come exam time, and is also totally unlike anything you’ve ever done in secondary school. It’s genuinely a very interesting subject as long as you keep on top of what’s going on, and use the library regularly to read up on sociological thinkers and their ideas (what they thought and why they thought it). Personally, I find that note taking isn’t extremely helpful for this type of class – it’s more about using your brain and thinking outside the box. Try to find real life cases, examples or experiments to support and contrast the concepts you talk about in class.
Overall, just do your work before the exams (“before” the exams doesn’t mean “the night before”). I guarantee you it’s not as scary as it seems and that you remember a lot more from Week’s 1 and 2 than you think you do. If all else fails, just remember that repeating costs money. A lot of money. Money that could be spent treating yo’self instead of spending August in a stuffy exam hall filled with people equally as miserable as you!
Quick Study Tips
- Sticky notes. If, like me, you have the attention span of a goldfish with concussion and hate sitting down at a desk to look at books and notes, just stick little sticky notes with information and class material around your room. Put them on your door, your bathroom mirror, anywhere you’ll see them regularly and can scan through them easily. Pick a different colour for each subject and spend 5 minutes in the morning and evening quickly reading them.
- Group work. If working in a group helps you, then organize it! Use the UL library, language lab or even just Red Raisins to meet up with a group of friends and talk about what’s going on in class. It doesn’t have to be formal, just bring some tea and flip through your notes. It can be helpful to hear other peoples interpretations and understandings.
- Apps. These are great for languages – there are grammar apps, vocabulary apps, basically anything you want. They’re quick, they’re easy, you can do it on the bus, in bed, or on your way to class. Download QuizUp to play against your friends in almost any subject you can think of.
- Ask. If you don’t understand, just ask. Lecturers are more than willing to help and are very understanding, unlike that one teacher everyone had for Leaving Cert who had a meltdown anytime someone didn’t understand something. Just go up to your lecturer or tutor after class, or send them a quick email, and they’d be more than happy to send you on any helpful sources or to talk you through anything tricky.
Hi guys! My name is Kate, I’m nineteen and I’m a second year European Studies student at UL, and a newly appointed Student Ambassador for the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences!