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Studying. Or StuDYING as most anyone over the age of fifteen refers to it as with tearful emojis or actual tears. As much as everyone hates it, studying is what separates the average student from the extraordinary. Studying is how students become doctors, lawyers, esteemed businessmen and professors. It isn`t just studying either, it`s studying smart, it`s studying to retain and not to memorize. If it`s imperative students study to understand material, how do we motivate ourselves to do so?

Sometimes it may seem impossible to find motivation to study, the sun is shining, my Cleveland Indians are playing a double header, or Old Navy announces a one-day sale. It`s easier to find a distraction instead of motivation to sit down and grind out four hours of trying to learn the ins and outs of the human muscular system. So the question becomes how to make motivation overcome distractions. The answer is simple, eliminate distractions.

First things first, it doesn`t matter if I just ate a four course meal prior, I am magically starving as soon as the flashcards come out; always have snacks. I set up in a quiet area, away from the TV, and away from anyway I can update my Facebook friends I still don`t know anything about chemistry. Silence those cell phones! I have also found it easier to have everything I could possibly need at my fingertips; pencils, colored highlighters and pens, notecards, textbooks, etc. It is preferable to set up at a desk where I can sit up; I have found the couch makes it easy for a midday nap. Once I am all set up, I set up appropriate breaks while I study, usually every half hour to hour, and at times when I am really in a groove I find it easy to continue for a few hours before needing a break.

Okay so I have a good set up to study, now to actually learn all this material. Any subject can be overwhelming at first so it`s important to break it down.  I recommend flashcards for anyone just starting out. The key is to not put too much information on the card, use the cards for things easy to memorize quickly like vocabulary. For bigger concepts I find it helpful to build a concept map, I take a large piece of paper; try to make the pieces connect. This is especially important before a test covering a lot of material. I find it best to break it down by chapter and look at which each is trying to get at in the end. Colors are crucial when studying; I use different ones for different concepts and to make it more fun in creating studying tools. It is important to rewrite the notes in a way I understand; students should layout the information in a way they best understand it. And for students who hate rewriting the notes, (secretly all of us), I often use Quizlet. Once the flashcards are typed into the website you can save it, quiz yourself and even play fun games to test your knowledge.

So studying does not have to become stuDYING after all, it can be fun and colorful and include lots of witty drawings and clever little phrases to help students remember what they learn. Studying is what one makes it, and if one makes it and enjoyable and maybe downs a bag of Doritos in the process, then he just might find it easier to learn more and we might end up with a lot of happy students, parents and teachers alike. 

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