For some reason people have this perception that study habits are something that you are born with. You either have good study habits or you don’t.
This could not be further from the truth!
Like all habits, study habits can be cultivated and grown.
They may be tricky and hard work at first but the more you work at them the easier they will become.
The study tips that I suggest here are tips and habits that I used when I was going to school myself. They are also habits that I have seen successful students in my class exhibit.
That being said, this is not the definitive guide on study habits. There are whole books and college level courses on the topic.
What you need to do is to find a system that works for you.
Try out different things. Talk to friends that seem to have had success with studying and find out what has worked and not worked for them.
At the end of the day this is your show and only you can determine how successful you are going to be and how you are going to get there.
On with the study tips !
Take good notes during class
He listens well who takes notes.
We retain more writing things down than we do just listening or reading.
Take the time to take good notes. If you don’t know how, find someone who does and see if you can copy their notes. Maybe you’ll pick up some tips from them as well.
One thing that note taking is not, is writing down every word that your instructor speaks. This is just an exercise in futility.
Note taking is taking down key points and examples that help you understand the concepts.
Now a book of its own could be written on how to take notes but here are some methods that are worth you researching:
- Cornell method – This is the method I recommend. Check out this Youtube video for examples on how the method works.
- Outlining method.
- Mind mapping method.
- Charting method – Not that great for math or physics.
It is not important which note taking method you use. What is important, is that you find one that works for you and use it.
Review your notes
Twice and thrice over, as they say, good is it to repeat
and review what is good.
While the practice of writing down notes helps you retain what you are learning, notes have another benefit.
They are a great resource for review and they are a great study aid.
This is why it is important to learn how to take good notes.
It’s one thing to just copy stuff down as the instructor speaks or as you read the textbook. It is another to be able to go to those notes and be able to use them as a resource.
Use your notes in your study group (remember you joined or started one last post, right?). Share your notes with each other.
I can’t stress enough how valuable this is!
It is incredible how much you can learn from fellow students. It is equally incredible how much you can teach them. Not only will they keep you accountable, you will push each other to be better students.
Keep your notes from year to year. There will be times that you wish you had your old notes to review. A lot of concepts in forthcoming years requires knowledge of previous years information.
Understand, don’t memorize.
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t know it well
In my opinion this is one of the biggest issues with education today. Schools are designed to turn people into good memorizers.
Just think about it, most tests require you to regurgitate something that you have learned. You could go through your whole education without fully understanding what you are learning but if you are good at memorizing then you will do well.
I know that this is not always the case and there are some exceptions. However I do know that in my own experience as a student and an instructor this has been 95% the case.
I am constantly harping on students to make sure they are understanding the concepts, not just memorizing them. If you take the time to understand the concept it’ll stay with you, I promise.
Invest in the understanding and you won’t have to stress about the remembering.
Teacher, why did you give me such a bad mark when I
studied so hard the day of the exam?
Cramming does not work. Sitting down the night before an exam is, in my humble opinion, stupid.
You more than likely are going to be trying to review a whole units worth of information in a few hours. A unit that you probably spent days learning.
Good luck with that.
Not to mention you will be doing this with a knot in your stomach, a feeling of nausea flowing over you and a gallon of coffee knocking on the door of your bladder.
Manage your time well. Take time every day to review previous material. Netflix will be there for you to watch when the course is over.
Take short breaks and take them often.
A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest of men.
Your ability to remember anything decreases rapidly after about 20-30 minutes. Make sure every half hour or so you get up and walk around, check Facebook, go for a run.
It is amazing what a difference this makes. Spending too much time on a topic can overload your brain to the point of saturation. It won’t be able to take in any more information.
After 30 minutes of studying you may be wasting your time.
There have been times that I have struggled with something to the point of banging my head against the wall. A short break later and things appeared much clearer.
Keep in mind I said short break.
Minimize your distractions.
You can always find a distraction if you are looking for
Studies say that it can take anywhere between 5-15 minutes to regain the level of focus you had before you were distracted.
When you are dealing with a finite amount of time, those minutes are precious.
Here are some things you can do to help minimize distractions:
- Wear noise canceling headphones. Listen to instrumental music (Go to songza.com for playlists for studying).
- Work in a space where you are able to close the door to distractions.
- Silence your computer and phone.
- Set aside a specific time for studying/doing homework and keep that time sacred. Let everyone who is close to you know how sacred this time is.
- If you must study away from home choose a library if at all possible.
- If you must study in a public place pick the most remote part of the area. Make sure you are away from large and loud groups.
- Make sure the area around where you are studying is neat and organized. Chaos begets chaos and focus begets focus.
- Close all windows on your computer that are not necessary for studying (Facebook is not necessary). Use website blockers if necessary. These are apps designed to block certain websites for a specific amount of time.
- Take good notes. Not only does this help retain what you’re learning but acts as a great source for review.
- Review your notes. They are great sources for study aids. Who better to understand than yourself (as long as the notes are legible).
- Take the time to understand key concepts, don’t just memorize. If you take the time for understanding you won’t have to worry about the remembering.
- Don’t cram. No good comes of this, unless you like having an ulcer.
- Take short breaks. Your brain can only handle so much. Let it off the leash once and awhile.
- Minimize your distractions. Focus is the key. Take away things that cause you to lose focus.
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