It feels like it’s been both a year and a minute since my last blog post. On the one hand, this semester is flying by, but on the other, I feel like my days have been a little monotonous—and long to boot. Maybe that’s because I’ve developed a school schedule that works for me, or because I’m trying to stick to some habits (if you read my last post and you’re wondering: the swimming is going great!). But I’ve definitely felt the need to change things up. So I got a brand-new haircut, tried out some new recipes, and watched some new movies—I would totally recommend The Sound of Metal. These aren’t big changes, of course, but doing a few fun things helps beat the winter blahs.
Speaking of changing things up, I’m in my fourth year, but—would you believe it?—I have my first ever in-class test next week! The test is for my art history elective, ARTH 242: History of Photography. I’ve already shared how much I’ve been enjoying these art history courses, but this one is definitely outside of my comfort zone. Instead of talking about photographs, we’re talking about the technology behind them. I haven’t taken a chemistry course in nearly six years, but suddenly I’m learning about silver nitrate and hypo solution and something called the wet collodion process (no? Me neither). Needless to say, I’m a little nervous for the test. But I thought I would channel that nervous energy into trying some new study habits and sharing them with you. Here are some strategies I’ve been trying to help my brain remember how, exactly, a camera obscura works.
Draw diagrams: Diagrams can be helpful ways to visualise and retain information. Sometimes I try to draw diagrams from memory and then compare them to my notes, which also helps with memorisation. It’s fun to switch things up from endlessly writing and reading.
Talk aloud: I’ve shared this tip before in the context of editing a paper, but talking aloud, or even pretending to teach yourself a concept, can also help with retention. It can work even better if you find somebody else to teach!
Videos: I’ve found that there are a lot of great explanatory videos from museums and galleries who want to teach the concepts behind their artworks, and I’m sure there are a lot of similar videos for fields like history, or even the sciences. If, by chance, you’re in art history, too, or even just want to know more about photography, then I really recommend this video by the V & A on daguerreotypes. Finding these sorts of explainer videos can give you useful context that’s presented in an appealing, slick way.
Something that I haven’t covered in any of my previous blog posts is my experience with test anxiety. I tend to become increasingly anxious about a test, especially the night before, even if it’s not an exam. In terms of managing that anxiety, I like to stop studying the night before the test (although I will revise a bit during the day). By the night before, any more talk of the test is just going to make me nervous, so I’m less likely to remember anything. I also have a “get ready” playlist for the few minutes before the test to put me in the right mood. This past December, Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream) by the Icicle Works was my pre-exam jam, and you can bet I’ll be playing it before my test next week, too. And yes, I know that’s a super random song, but what can I tell you? It works for me!
Now that I’ve shared that gem of a song, I know you’ll want to hear more, so stay tuned for more song recommendations (and study tips!) from me. If you struggle with test anxiety, read SASS’ guide to beating that pre-test stress or book an appointment with a SASS specialist to talk about your nerves.