Seven study life hacks

| Bas Leijser

‘The Lister’ is a biweekly series created by Bas Leijser, a UT MSc-student and writer at U-Today, who seeks to create order from chaos through the use of listicles. This time, he lists the seven best study life hacks, which are also rated by Pieter Roos, teacher of the year 2017.

You may be familiar with so-called ‘life hacks’, simple tricks that differentiate exceptional people from average. Know them and your life will never be the same again. For example, you can give the best high-fives by looking at someone’s elbow, and seatbelts in cars are perfect beer openers (you didn’t get that from me!). On a more serious note, here are seven study life hacks that may or may not work to improve your grades. Each of them is given a rating by Pieter Roos.

 (1) Procrastinate and then study for 16 hours straight on the penultimate day

Only a few students have mastered this technique, which is the most time-efficient way to pass your study. For some reason 99% of the exams only test if you have a short-term memory or not. You would think that after proving this once, they can just hand you your degree. Although, of course, if you study Industrial Design you should also add a drawing, if you study Psychology you should make a survey and e-mail 200 people about it, and if you study Civil Engineering you should make a spaghetti bridge (I wish I was making this up).


(2) Watch (YouTube) videos

Students who truly play 4D chess, do not settle for a dusty old book. No, they study by watching YouTube videos, because why read an entire book when you could also absorb that knowledge by watching a 10-minute video? Philosophy students are especially proficient at this, as they binge-watch Black Mirror in the name of science (spoiler: that show is overrated).


(3) Be the front-row kid

I always feel a bit sorry for the teacher when all the back rows are filled to the brim and there’s a big empty gap in front. Although, sometimes there’s one person who does take a seat in the front row. This raises the question whether this front-row kid is a genius, near-sighted, or simply an inexplicable phenomenon, like a tomato being a fruit. But I digress, sitting in front can work, although it may be easier to just get off Facebook and not sit next to that friend who always distracts you (we all know someone who fits that description, I myself am a horrible example).     


(4) Teach others 

Do you know that feeling when you have a question, explain it to someone, and suddenly you know the answer? It also works for studying. Well, unless you are a philosophy student, because then every question just leads to another. The only exception is, of course, the first question on every philosophy exam, where you are asked to write down your name. Or maybe you get bonus points if you write down “Who am I, really?”. 



(5) Try to understand why the professor is interested in the subject.

If you discover the answer, please contact me, as I still have no clue.  

(6) Record lectures using a camera or microphone

Truly advanced students don’t even go to the lecture and watch the recording at home at 2-4x speed. That leaves you more time for actual studying whatever gets you out of bed in the morning.



(7) Learn by chunking.

Some students take this literally and add gummy bears or other candy all over their book, to ‘reward’ themselves. As Trump would say: “Sounds good, doesn’t work.”

Teacher’s perspective: Dr. ir. Pieter Roos

'If I go to a parent-teacher conference and my wife comes along, I pay less attention simply because I know that my wife is already paying attention. This is comparable to recording a lecture or relying too much on technology – like making notes on your tablet – so I would not recommend that.

To continue the imaginary analogies: imagine, if you will, that you can either drive a new, sporty Volvo, or an old car. Would you drive as fast with the old car? No, your risk acceptance differs. This is similar to relying on technology and other methods for studying. There is a danger that you become too dependent on it. I support the old-school pen-and-paper method.

I think teaching others is the most useful method here. It also helps if you can empathize with the professor and grasp why he or she finds the subject interesting (or ask!). Learning by chunking can work, but I would recommend also drawing sufficient connections and parallels between the chunks. It would be a mistake to ignore the bigger picture.'