Study Places and Software

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A lot of software is hidden in this article, maybe we should bring it out? Someone couldn't find the pdf escape thing today

Study Spaces

  • Coffee Shops
  • Yale Libraries
  • Your room
  • Empty classrooms (for group studying -- the chalkboards and / or projectors are useful)
  • Almost no one uses the Engineering Library, so it's pretty quiet. (in Dunham, students' center during 2012; will be back in Becton January 2013)
  • The CSSSI was recently renovated, and is great for collaborative studying.
    • Mediascape consoles allow students to share their screens instantly on multiple monitors
    • Interview practice rooms let you record yourself giving presentations
    • StatLab is open during the day and has techs to help you with problems
    • Group study rooms are completely writeable - great for brainstorming and psets.
    • All computers have multiple monitors and have seating for two

Late night spaces

  • Silent
  • Background Noise
    • Bass Cafe
    • Coffee Shops
    • GHeav (upstairs in the balcony region; so cozy)
    • CSSSI (in the basement of Kline) Is the only 24 hour Yale Library Space.
      • Video wall can be used for collaboration
      • Has group study rooms with writeable walls
      • Group study spaces, computers, printers, and collaboration tools differentiate it from residential college libraries.
    • Commons (or other dining halls? wonder why that’s so much less common~)
      • Keep in mind that only some residential dining halls are open late.
      • Food is not served, and you'll annoy dining staff if you try to take stuff.
    • Butteries
      • Great for when you've really hit a wall late at night and also want to eat fried things
      • Go with friends! Great place to make suffering a social activity
    • CEID

Early morning spaces

  • What dining halls will let you linger between breakfast and lunch?
    • Berkeley will let you linger around until 11am. Then you have to re-swipe to stay there.
    • TD allows this and it's relatively easy to get by not swiping for lunch.

Study Tips

  • Find a study space that works for you; but you can also train yourself to study well in another space!:-D
  • Do you study better in a group or alone? Does it depend on the course?
  • Learn to do the readings and write papers as soon as they are assigned. Completing papers early leaves you time to re-write and revise them for markedly better results.
  • Get off Facebook NOW. Psychologists agree that self-control is one of the most important ingredients to success. It can be difficult though, so software can keep you away from websites for you! Programs like SelfControl, for Mac users, block websites for periods of time that you can set. You can also try StayFocused (Chrome extension), which can limit time on indicated websites or block them completely for a set length of time with the "nuclear option." These are particularly useful before midterms/finals/paper deadlines!
  • Language classes are some of the most time-consuming. Consider that when signing up for them, and be prepared for a lot of daily studying.
  • If you have multiple things to do, start with the one which will take the most time. It may be tempting to start with the easy one, but they will take up way too much time if you are using them to procrastinate something more difficult.

Help! I can't study!

If you find yourself stuck in a position where you /need/ to study but /can't/ study, try these tips:

  1. Change setting
    • consider going to a library, coffee shop, other suite (be careful!)
    • Try being a study-nomad. Some people can't study in the same location for more than a couple of hours, they 'fatigue' of that place.
  2. Change your brain
    • Take a jog around the block or through your college basement (=> serotonin!)
    • Read or look over flashcards on the treadmill/elliptical. This is great for saving time and curing restlessness, but do not do it for longer than 30-40 minutes. This can give you a killer headache from the eyestrain.
    • Take a break, do something irrelevant to work. For a limited amount of time. Like call your mother, for goodness sake.
    • If you choose to drink caffeine, know your limits - try a slow-dosing delivery system, such as half-caff or tea
  3. Social Pressure
    • Surround yourself with people who are also working
  4. If you need the internet, try changing into your "work browser". This can help defer distraction.


Of course, you can take notes on paper, in Microsoft Word, or in the powerpoint file the teacher gives you. You could also make PDF bubble-comments if you'd like.

Collaborative Note-Taking

When a small group of students take notes together they end up with better notes, more time to concentrate on the lecture, and can even get better grades.

  • Slidee (rich text next to powerpoint slides; being developed by Casey Watts BK '12)
  • Etherpad + Presentation-Text-Extraction (so fun! see below)
  • GoogleDocs (just text)
  • CrocoDoc (pdf comment-bubbles, plain text)
  • WorkFlowy, a dead-simple outliner. You can share subsections of your outline with other people who have WorkFlowy accounts

Non-Collaborative Notetaking

Text Extraction from Presentations

Want to take notes in Word/GoogleDocs, but you don't want to write what the slides say?

  1. Export the PPT file to PDF
  2. Export the PDF to text (Adobe Reader can do this)
  3. (Sometimes the text might be messy, but you can clean it up with a Find-and-Replace tool)
  4. Voila!

+ Etherpad

Wouldn't it be great to distinguish between slide-text and your own notes though? Try using Etherpad instead of Word/GoogleDocs! You can make it so the slide text will have a white background, and you'll have a different color background (if your friends collaborate, each of them will have an /even different/ color!).

  1. Paste the presentation's text into the pad
  2. "Clear Authorship Colors" is the last button on the toolbar
  3. Slide-text-background will be white, notes-background will have color.

PDF Management

Organize PDFs & Make Bibliographies

If you have >10 PDFs for one class, I think you'd benefit so much from one of these. The most popular PDF-management-programs might be EndNote (PC) and Papers (Mac) but both cost money.

  • Mendeley is absolutely my favorite.
    • Free! - for Mac/PC/Linux
    • Organizes and renames PDFs in a file structure (useful even if you decide not to use the program forever)
    • Export works cited
    • Take "notes" on each pdf (I love doing this! it's like writing in the margins~)
    • Includes web space for your pdfs (useful? Yes, especially for cross-platform use)
  • Qiqqa is absolutely the most powerful PDF manager out there. It's the only program I switch to Windows for.
    • Free and easy to use. Unfortunately, only available on PC/Android (I haven't tested Android).
    • PDF viewing, annotation, and OCR text- extraction (+search across documents). Can combine all your highlights, scribbles, and notes from across all PDFs into a separate clean doc.
    • Great tagging and smart organization, allowing you to find papers on similar topics, by similar writers, etc.
    • Cloud sync, great metadata collection, citation, and collaboration capabilities. Integrates perfectly with Microsoft Word with in-text citation, bibliographies, and a nifty tool that could suggest papers to cite as you write in Word so you don't have to keep switching back and forth.
  • Zotero used to only be a Firefox Plugin


Save or print PDFs

  • PDF Escape
    • Lets you save those PDFs that say "you can't save".
    • (Alternatively, you coulduse the "Print to PDF" function to do the same thing)
  • Cute PDF
    • Especially useful for printing online receipts/etc when you’re far from an actual printer. (I know there are many others as well, this is just the one I’ve always used.)

Enhance your Classes

Q&A Software

Piazza Q&A site is a site where students/professors/TA's all collaborate to answer each other's questions wiki-style until one perfect answer is attained.

  • Sooo many classes would benefit from this; professors just don't know it exists. Let them know ^_~
  • Biochem lecture uses it and everyone loves it!

Lab Manual Annotation

THIS NEEDS TO BE SIMPLIFIED OOPS Half-Blood Prince's Annotated Lab Manual. That is, collaborative commenting on the lab manual. I put the lab manual onto GoogleDocs and shared it with the class, restricting everyone to "comments only". This way we can comment to ask/answer questions in the context of the manual. Also, we can all update our paper copies with all the secret tricks before we get to lab! Alsoalso, the professor would love to have this for revising the notes for next semester.

Problems with Googledocs

You may want a second email account to "own" the lab files you upload, so that you can restrict yourself to only leaving comments and prevent accidental editing of the text. since everyone already has a paper copy of the manual. Even the professor should be restricted to only leave comments, actually.

GoogleDocs has a surprise "sharing quota" that prevents you from sharing the files with as many people as you'd like. I can't find official documentation anywhere, but I see plenty of complaints all over the internet about this quota. I hit it in EliApps too, so I don't think we get special super-quota powers. Two ways around it: Use multiple emails as owners and invite from each of them. I hit using three different accounts before I managed to invite the class to all the documents.

Another way might be to make a google group for the class, and then invite that group as commenters - then it's only one share instead of 30+. I haven't tested this though, I dunno if it'll work. If you try it let me know how it goes?:)

Group Presentations

For collaborative presentations, all software sucks.

  • The best way to work on a project is using Powerpoint/Keynote and sharing the file in a Dropbox folder.
  • Alternatives:
    • GoogleDocs Presentation
    • SlideRocket seems nice, but doesn't actually let you collaborate without paying.
    • Prezi is super-flashy, but not as quick-and-easy.

Subject-Specific Tools

SciFinder (for chemistry)

Yale bought us all subscriptions to SciFinder! It is the coolest thing for people taking chemistry/orgo. You can DRAW STRUCTURES AND REACTIONS to look them up in the literature. And it'll tell you what products form according to the literature. Or what reagents are necessary to form a product. Thus, how to do your chemistry homework. Registration instructions are deep within the Yale Internet:

Study With Flashcards Online

Not an all-inclusive list yet, nor a full review. These are the ones Yalies have used - what's your favorite?

    • Make flashcards, play games with them, and keep them all sorted electronically!
    • Keeps records of your errors.
    • Especially good for foreign (European) languages, because it will say the foreign language words back to you and test your spelling.
    • Make flashcards with text or images and keep them sorted electronically. Test yourself, record your successes and failures manually.
    • Generates fancy statistics about your errors and successes.
    • Probably good for art history, since you can upload images.
  • Flashonary (iPod Touch/iPhone App)
    • For Chinese - great because it comes with its own dictionary - making cards is fast!