Study Smarter (Not Harder, Not Longer)

It can be discouraging when you feel like you are not doing well in your classes–the exams come back and they are not what you were expecting–to the point where you may even begin to resent them. New students in their first semester of college tend to have a lower GPA than in their second semester (it is rare for students to earn a 4.0 in college), and it’s not surprising. In addition to trying to master course content, you’re also trying to navigate a new environment, make new friends, and manage your time. Know that it is okay to not do super well on your first couple exams; you are so much more than whatever your grades might try to tell you that you are. What is important is that you start to plan how you can improve your study habits so that for the next exam, you feel ready and confident. Then, when you get that exam back, you are content with your grade knowing that you studied as effectively as possible.

So, here are a few tips to improve the way you study, especially if you are anything like freshman Austin and are thinking,

Wow, I have no idea how I could have studied more. I spent so much time preparing. I guess I am just not smart enough.

Thankfully, I eventually learned that it is not about how much time you spend studying but how effectively you use that time.

Focus, Rest, Repeat

Spending hours upon hours trying to comprehend the large quantities of information–while unintentionally getting side-tracked by scrolling through the latest Twitter drama–is probably not the best way to go about studying. I find it helpful to have distraction-free, focused time on one subject for an hour, then take a 5 to 15 minute break, letting your mind chill on it for a few. Maybe take that break time to go on a walk, answer a few texts, meditate, listen to music, or my personal favorite, consume healthy snacks. I find it helpful to change up the subjects, every hour or so that I don’t get bored with the same material.

Spend time with your professors

You have heard it before: “Go to Office Hours!” That’s true…but it is not as easy as they make it sound, right? It can be intimidating going to see your professor, especially if it is a large class. They are not as scary as they seem; they genuinely care about you as a person and as a student, and they want you to succeed in their class. It can be helpful to have questions prepared before you go, especially if you are worried about making conversation with them. At Ohio State, we have many professors with expertise in a wide variety of academia. Don’t be afraid to seek them out even just to learn more about their journey or what they are passionate about in life. Your professors can be your mentors, even if they do not work in your major’s department.

Study with friends!

It can be helpful to study with other people for classes that require memorization strategies. If you can explain things to others, it helps solidify the information in your brain as opposed to reviewing the same notes over and over again on your own. You can test and help each other understand material that clicks for you but not for someone else (or vise versa).

Catch many Z’s

As hard as it may seem, prioritize sleep! Getting rest helps our brains store the information we are trying to learn through out each day. Shoot for 7-9 hours of sleep each night, and avoid all-nighters as an effective way of studying for an upcoming exam…because they are not effective. Staying active can also help keep the stress levels down, even throughout the time when exams are looming. Physical activity doesn’t have to happen in the gym; it can be going for a walk or run, playing a sport like ultimate Frisbee or basketball, or doing pull ups on your lofted bed (be careful).

Try a few of these tips, and hopefully you will feel more confident heading into your exam, more confident heading out, and make the most of your experience at Ohio State. For more tips for success, check out the Dennis Learning Center for techniques on note taking, battling procrastination, and test taking.



Top 5 Places to Study on Campus

With the remaining three days of finals week, the only thing we’re supposed to be thinking about is studying. However, by now, with some students already finished with their finals, you may have experienced moments where your “freed” peers are too loud for you to get any work done. Let’s be honest here, the last thing we want to do is be studying, but changing up where you do it can give you the little jolt of motivation that you may need.

1. 18th Avenue Library

The 18th Avenue Library is near and dear to north campus dwellers. With its three floors and hundreds of computers, it’s a great place to study. It’s also an amazing place gather with your friends because of its more conversation-friendly spaces. One example is the third floor, a place free from the scary “hear-a-pin-drop” silence of other library  locations.


  • Open 24/7
  • Has a café on the main floor


  • Smaller than Thompson
  • Not as aesthetically pleasing (but who has time to look at anything apart from your textbooks anyway?)

2. Thompson Library

This is a favorite place for many students and with approximately 1,800 places to sit, it’s the largest of Ohio State’s 12 libraries. It also has rooms that you can book in advance for you to study with your friends. When inside, be sure to check out the 11th floor’s spectacular view!

*Tip: The Buckeye Grand Reading room is a popular spot, so make sure that once you nag a seat you stay there!


  • Berry Café on the main floor
  • It’s an overall beautiful place


  • It’s super easy to get distracted by people watching

3. Keith B. Key Center for Student Leadership and Service 


This corner of the Union near the resource room is a great spot to study. A ton of student organizations have their offices in this area, and generally, it is one of the quieter areas of the Union.  There’s always stuff going on in the building, so you can grab a bite or see what’s going on around campus during your study breaks. In addition, if you ask the front desk within the resource room, you can rent out some of the office spaces in the leadership center for free.


  • Access to food, social areas and many locations
  • Private study rooms may be available


  • It’s easy to get distracted
  • Often busy

4. Orton Library

Orton Hall is the building with the famous bell tower.  Within the building is a hidden gem, the library on the first floor; it is very homey and has the coolest little nooks to work in. In addition, it’s pretty small and quiet, so you won’t have to fear as many distractions.


  • Quiet and cozy


  • No food
  • Small
  • Fewer outlets
  • Limited hours

5. Various tutoring centers on campus

This can really vary depending on your major and department and on your teacher. However, for those who are taking larger lecture classes (chemistry or math), these areas can be great resources where you can study and get help at the same time. They centers vary by location and specific hours, so make sure to check with your professors, TA’s and class resources to see if one is available for you.


  • One-on-one help


  • Dependent on class
  • Time restrictions
  • Often busy

For additional study spots and altered library hours check Happy studying and good luck with the rest of your finals!