How to Study like a Harvard Student - Study Guide and Learning Management Tips


Harvard University needs no introduction. Studying at Harvard is a dream only a few manage to fulfill. As hard as it is to be a student here, graduating with a high grade-point-average is a significant achievement. Nevertheless, students studying in other institutions worldwide long for and admire the teaching methodology and the immense work that students need to complete their assignments and coursework along with extra-curricular activities.

The style of learning at Harvard is mimicked across colleges everywhere and is considered one of the world's best. If you desire to truly study like a Harvard student, be prepared to exert all the effort and time you can muster to achieve nothing less than spectacular results in your examinations. Here is a practical Study Guide along with a few Learning Management tips to bring you as close as possible to studying like an actual Harvard student that will hopefully help secure a seat in the prestigious institution:

Study Guide:

Studying like a Harvard Student requires maintaining straight A’s. A single A- can result in a drastic fall of Grade-Point-Average. To continue this brilliant streak, here is an effective study strategy that will discipline you into a strict study routine:

Study guide

Getting into your Study Shoes:

To study like a Harvard student, you must be willing to create the right mindset to ensure your success. This entails accepting change and aiming to grow and improve constantly. You must be willing to improve your abilities every step of the way by dropping a fixed mindset that only revolves around what you’ve already studied. Adopting a rigid or fixed mindset may not get you far if you expect to study like a true Harvard student. Continually working without an end is the key to exceptional performance in all your tests.

Right Mindset

Choosing Subjects that Interest you:

There is no point in choosing dull or difficult subjects because studying like a true Harvard student requires you to truly immerse yourself into your classes and coursework without feeling like there’s a load of a burden on your head. Once you chose your subjects of interest, understand that not all the assignments and classes will be equally interesting. It is essential to stay motivated since some classes and especially the examinations will seem like a horrendous pain.

Smart study

Preparing for the Arduous Journey:

Be aware of all the classes you need to attend, all the major tests you need to give, and the papers and assignments due. Plan for all of these before you begin to study since you will need to devote enough time to each of these tasks. Measure and gauge the time you need to complete assignments and papers and allot that time apart from your study hours.

Once you’ve sorted these important tasks, you can then plan for the actual studying part. Create schedules for the week or month so that you don’t miss any deadlines. Planning makes for half the finished task. Prioritize the time you need to assign for each assignment by completing the ones that contribute most to your grade first.

Remember that most of your time will be absorbed in doing assignments to prepare for the nightmare before it takes you in circles, leaving no time for study.

Smart Studying:

Studying like a Harvard Student means studying all day and all night, which can take a toll on your physical and mental well-being as well as alter the quality of your personal life. When you have such a huge amount of study load, it pays well to use these smart-study tips:

Improve the quality of your study time:

Rather than spending hours going through a concept without understanding a thing about it, spend a good deal of time on the most difficult parts to know it fully well. The more effort you put into understanding what you learn, you will be surprised to see that your study hours greatly reduced.

Reward Yourself:

Activate your reward system to make it co-operate during the hardest study phases. When your learning capacity is fully in sync with your will to complete your study, you can achieve spectacular results.

Reward yourself

Read Less, absorb more:

Spending hours in merely reading something will get you nowhere. Absorb and assimilate everything that you read so that you don’t have to come back later to re-read the same damn things.

Read less and absorb more

Never leave anything unlearned:

Here’s the thing about exams. They often test you in that one thing you decided to skip. Never leave any concept unlearned. If you’d rather cheat, cheat on something that’s out of the syllabus or something that you’re sure won’t cost you your precious grade.

Studying in Bursts:

It is neither practical nor advisable to spend every second of the day with your nose buried in a book because your brain tends to lose focus if it receives too much of a thing. Studying in Bursts is an effective way to maintain a healthy balance between work and play.

Instead of spending your whole day in study, divide your time between study and relaxation so that you spend the most important and active hours of your day concentrating on work and the leisurely parts to catch up on a fun activity. Always reserve coffee breaks and late afternoons to do something else because these are the times when your mind refuses to be tied down.

Learning Management Tips:

Studying at Harvard isn’t supposed to be easy, especially with the humongous amount of reading the material assigned to students. It may seem like 24 hours a day, seven days of the week are still not enough to successfully study all of it. This is where learning management tips and smart studying comes into the picture. Here are a few learning management tips to help you study like the true Harvard student you are:

Learning management tips

Daily Semester Plan:

Create an action plan for the entire semester on the first day by using a calendar with large spaces to write for each date. Mark major assignments and tests due on their appropriate dates if you already know them, or you can wait until you get your schedule for the year.

For each day, put down the tasks to be completed to help you complete your projects and semester assignments successfully, which will finally help you complete your semester with flying colors.

You can also mark busy periods, study times, etc., on your Daily Semester Plan calendar. Once you’ve made your semester plan, follow it to stay on track on all your due dates.

Build a Hierarchical Map:

Rote Learning is the worst way to study for a Harvard Student so never go down that road. You will find that building a hierarchical map of the main points and sub-points of the subject you’re studying will be effective in helping you master a difficult concept involving tons of reading material without spending hours on memorization.

Treat your subjects like a story instead of like a heap of baseless facts. You can either create a rough sketch or bring out your artistic abilities to make structured maps if you can afford that kind of time. Keep it handy during all your study sessions, or put it up where you can see it every day.

Preparing for Finals:

You will need to prepare not only for Final Exams each semester but also for your AP’s. Preparing for these difficult times combines maintaining a strong study foundation throughout the year and separately preparing for each test.

This is where memorizing will prove handy for all the major concepts you spent studying and analyzing deeply. Doing quick memorization sessions of the topics, you have a thorough understanding of will help you a few days before the exams, especially the night before.

Excelling in the General Exams:

You may have a lot of reading the material assigned for the general exams depending on the teacher's preferences. Some professors also give students the option of preparing a reading list, which they then review.

Choose core material that will help you in the next year because you don’t want to re-read them all over again. Consult those who’ve already taken their general exams and prepare your list based on their recommendations. Studying all that reading material and excelling in the Generals will be immensely beneficial for the finals.

General exams

Smart Studying with Online Tools:

Lectures and Notes fall short when it comes to studying at Harvard. There are several online resources and tools to help you assimilate a large amount of study material quickly and effectively.

There are many apps for studying assistance like Brainscape that uses flashcards to help you study, and ‘Quick Graph’ that lets you do problem sets easily with a Graphing Calculator. There are also apps for paper writing, Organizer Apps, etc. Make the most of online resources.

Smart studying

Prepare for Anticipated Questions:

Most of the questions appearing on the tests are centered around ‘compare and contrast.’ Find more of such questions from every subject you know are most likely to appear on the test and change your exam preparation to be more centered around them. This studying method is best suited for when your exams are approaching with top speed, and you want to go over everything you studied in the entire year.

Build a collection of anticipated questions from past tests and prepare for exam-specific questions. You won't want your year-long intense study sessions brought to nothing if you haven’t acquired the desired grade.

Dealing with Group Projects:

Group Projects are a problem because your work is distributed among your team members and their performance directly affects your own. Of course, the simplest thing to do would be to choose good project members, but the minute Group Projects are announced, a mad rush ensues to grab the best members, and you might be left with people you don’t get along too well with.

You may not be able to force your team members to work at the same level as you, but you can do your job well. Also, communication is key, along with proper planning. You could collectively break up tasks and assign each to a team member to be completed within a stipulated time.

Tackling English:

English Class Grading is the most confusing because the way your papers are graded depends on the teacher. The grading system from last year may not hold for your semester.

Themes, Styles, and Voices matter in English Class, and you need to observe your teacher’s grading style to change the way you do your papers. You need to keep an eye on your text pieces of evidence, section transitions, and maintain perfect vocabulary for your thesis.

Grab every opportunity to get tests graded by your teacher so that you get the hang of his/her grading method, which will be useful for you to succeed in your finals.

The Power of Memorization:

Some classes like History and Foreign Language require you to use your memory to store dates and words. Exercise your memory muscle so that it's present and doesn’t fail you when you’re writing your tests.

Relying on memory can be dangerous, especially if your short-term memory is bad. Use an effective memorization strategy like spaced-retention learning or use flashcards to retain more information.

The power of memorization

Tackling the Exponential Learning Curve:

If you’ve taken up Math and Science subjects, you need to remember that everything you study in your first year is relevant until your finals and concepts build upon each other.

So, mastering the basics is important even though your teacher may not always remind you. Math and Science are straightforward, unlike literature, since you can measure your progress. Watch out for the exponential learning curve and get everything right from the start so that advanced topics in later semesters aren’t hard owing to weak basics.

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