This summer, get yourself in competitive shape mentally and physically for another session of fall classes, term papers and projects. Inspired by the Olympics, we’ve put together our own academic training program for you to tackle any class. All it takes is a little planning and a lot of persistence.
Your mental training will include strategies for using your memory such as using acronyms, acrostics and rhyme-keys. Don’t know what those are? Check out the Joe Landsberger’s Study Guides and Strategies website where you’ll learn tips for how to study and ways to build your mental mass. For example, one way to recall information is called “chaining.”
Landsberger explains how to chain: “Create a story where each word or idea you have to remember cues the next idea you need to recall. If you had to remember the words Napoleon, ear, door, and Germany, you could invent a story of Napoleon with his ear to a door listening to people speak in German.”
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, students who do some form of vigorous physical exercise regularly get better grades. A study of 266 undergraduates found that the average grade difference was 0.4 points higher for students who exercised seven days a week.
How is a busy college student supposed to exercise regularly when they have little time and no money for a fancy gym membership? Try these routines that can be done just about anywhere.
- Build strength: push-ups using the floor or a wall, lunges, squats, sit-ups
- Cardio burn: jumping jacks, running in place, jumping rope, walking/running up and down stairs, kickboxing
Shape.com has specific dorm room workout routines that are quick and easy to do.
Talent — Are you born with it?
Some students take to math like a duck to water and others can explain biology in their sleep, but even they have to work hard for their good grades. Just what does it take to be successful? According to Geoff Colvin, talent is overrated and what really makes a success is “deliberate practice.”
In a May 12, 2009 post for FranklinCovey.com titled, “Book Summary: ‘Talent is Overrated’ by Geoff Colvin,” Todd Wangsgard reviewed Colvin’s book describing his theories about success.
“The author explains, drawing several research-based conclusions, that the secret — deliberate practice — is designed, can be repeated a lot, requires constant feedback, is highly demanding mentally, and isn’t much fun,” Wangsgard said.
Not easy and not fun may not be your ideal choice, but if success were easy, your victories wouldn’t be nearly as rewarding.
Ace the exam without breaking a sweat
All of your practice and preparation will be put to use and proven effective when you have to take an exam, but the sheer pressure can make even the most prepared student shaky to the point of nausea. Sound like you? Relax. Plenty of strategies can help you whip your fall exams into submission.
You can read about them all in Motivation and Learning Strategies for College Success: A Self-Management Approach, by Myron H. Dembo. From time management, to study tips to dealing with different types of test questions, the author covers all the challenges that can derail student success.
Are you often baffled by true/false quiz questions? Dembo suggests looking for key words such as: most, always, better, or more, to give you clues that can determine what the statement really means. Always read test questions carefully and choose the answer you feel is the best. If you’re not sure, then he advises that you guess rather than leave the answer blank.
Do you stress out before the exam? According to Dembo, “Relaxation techniques can be grouped into physical and mental techniques. For example, controlling one’s breathing is an effective way to relax. Many experts in anxiety reduction teach individuals breathing exercises that involve long, slow exhalation. The diaphragm expands and tenses when taking in air and relaxes when the air is released. Thus, one way to relax is to increase the time you spend exhaling.”
Get into fighting condition this summer by strategizing your study routine, ready to hit the ground running in the fall. Success all comes down to deciding what you want and going for it with all you’ve got. With planning and persistence, you can go the distance.
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