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  • Sophia Xie

Different Types of Studying

As students, many of us are subjected to unit tests, quizzes, and assignments on a weekly basis. Sometimes, a teacher will decide to have a midterm. But the final level, the grand finale of all assessments, the ultimate tests, are the finals, Regents, and AP Exams in May and June. 


Before getting there, we dutifully troop through the unit tests and quizzes, the Google Forms, and graded homework assignments. In preparation, many find themselves scrambling for study guides, YouTube videos on particular subjects, or a teacher’s extra help schedule. Some begin their meticulous planning the moment an assessment is announced and proceed with calm. Each person has his or her own unique way of preparing for an assessment, yet there are four general categories: the Last Minute Crammer, the Meticulous Planner, the Wild Card, and the Combination.


First up, the Last Minute Crammers. They are caught in a state between hopelessness and that irrepressible thought that maybe, just maybe, if they went over the slides just one more time, everything on the test would be imprinted into their brain. Last Minute Crammers, or LMCs, invariably have a faint aura of chaos around them, hurrying to do the hundred and one tasks that had been left until the last minute. Their Google Classroom “To-Do” has multiple missing assignments and a seemingly endless list in their “This Week”. 

On the day of the assessment, the only thing to be done is cram. A textbook will appear in their hands, following them everywhere, even to lunch, P.E., or any other class. The one tab on their computer is the presentation or the study guide posted by their teacher. A true LMC waits until lunch, a free period or even the 5 minutes during the transition period to fully concentrate on studying. The results…remain to be seen. No one knows what goes on inside the mind of an LMC as they are cramming, just as no one truly knows precisely how adrenaline impacts studying.


On the other hand, we have the polar opposite of LMCs: Meticulous Planners. Those who can identify as a Meticulous Planner (aka MP) are not common. They have a willpower that far exceeds normal students and begin studying the day a test is announced. Planning, to them, is merely part of the test. They formulate a detailed schedule, down to the hour, minute, and second. 

Sometimes, you may finish all your reviewing to find that the Meticulous Planner has yet to complete their plan, but don't be fooled; they will speed through all the material it took you a week to review in a few days, reaching the pinnacle of their knowledge on the day of the test -- that’s just how they operate. The results speak for themselves; Meticulous Planners rarely, if ever, fall short of high scores. 


The third type, the Wild Card, is as its name suggests: wild. Their mental state varies with each test, sometimes oddly calm and other times, even more haywire than the LMCs. During a test, they may finish light years ahead of others or may stay even after the bell has rung, prompting the teacher to repeatedly call for them to hand in the test. Every so often, Wild Cards will make plans for studying that rival even the Meticulous Planners in their detailed approach and color-coded plans. While some may think that cramming skills are unique to LMCs, Wild Cards are able to emulate them. Out of the four main types of students, it is fair to say that Wild Cards are the true rarities, even less common than Meticulous Planners.


Out of those already covered, we have seen both extremes: those who (over)prepare and those who don't. In the middle, a group of students classified as Combinations exists. Multiple variations of Combinations exist, with some ranging towards the MPs and some towards the LMCs; but their defining characteristic is their consistency. They stay on the same part of the spectrum throughout most of their high school career, the only opportunities for change being during the transitions between grade levels. After the lulling comfort of summer, Combinations stand the best chance of mutating into one of the other three types. 


No matter which type you are, studying is an enigmatic and mysterious process. The results may vary depending on the effort put in, but what really goes on inside the mind is something we can only guess at. While I’ve tried to classify most students into the 4 main types, maybe, somewhere on campus, another type exists.

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