Let's Talk: Effective study tips
Tips for Effective Study
The most common barrier to success encountered by college students is a lack of effective techniques for study and exam preparation. .
By knowing a bit about how the brain works, we can become better learners, absorbing new information faster than ever. The brain is a tangled web of information. We don’t remember single facts, but instead we interlink everything by association. Anytime we experience a new event, our brains tie the sights, smells, sounds and our own impressions together into a new relationship.
Our brain remembers things by repetition, association, visual imagery, and all five senses
Here are some suggestions to increase your effectiveness as a student.
First step: Find a comfortable and quiet place to study with lighting and little distractions (avoid your bed; it is very tempting to just lie down and take a nap)
Day to Day
A: Take good notes.
- Always take the notes for a particular class in the same notebook. Spiral bound notebooks were invented because they solved the problem of keeping related information consolidated in one place.
- It is usually best to keep the notes for different classes separate from each other. Spiral notebooks with built in dividers are excellent for this purpose.
- Anything the instructor writes on the board should appear in your notes. If the instructor took the time to write it out, he or she considers it important. You should do the same.
- If possible, try to take your notes in some kind of outline form. The organization of ideas is as important as the content of those ideas, especially when it comes to learning the material for an exam.
- You might find it useful to have a second color of pen or pencil available for highlighting important ideas or indicating vocabulary.
B: Be involved in your classes.
- Don't simply pretend you are a sponge, ready to soak up whatever the instructor says. You are there to learn, not to be taught.
- If the instructor is moving too rapidly for you, or if you don't understand what is being said, say something!
- Ask questions if you are confused. Confusion is definitely your worst enemy.
- If your class includes group activities, participate as fully as you can. Such exercises are done for your benefit, not to provide a break for the instructor.
C: Review your notes every day.
- This suggestion is one which we have all heard a thousand times. Unfortunately, most of us never really believe it until we actually try it. Spend 30 minutes or so each evening going over the notes from each class. There are at least two tremendous benefits to be gained from this discipline.
Research has shown that reviewing new material within 24 hours of hearing it increases your retention of that material by about 60%. This means that you will be 60% ahead of the game the next time you walk into class. If you want to significantly reduce the time necessary to prepare for exams, this is the way to do it.
Using Your Textbook
- Don't expect your instructor to give you detailed, page by page textbook assignments. While some may do so, many do not. College teachers are much more likely to expect you to use your own initiative in making use of the text.
- Here's another thing we have all been told thousands of times: Don't leave assignments until the day before they are due! If you have a paper to write or a lab report to prepare, begin it as soon as possible. In most cases, instructors will be delighted to receive work early. Remember that many papers or projects require quite a bit of research before you can even begin writing. In most cases, it is impossible to accomplish the necessary preparation in one day or even one week. In some cases, instructors won't accept late work at all. They are perfectly justified.
Preparing for Exams
- Keep in mind that you want to be an active learner, not a passive one. The more you use and manipulate the information, the better you will understand it. Using and manipulating information in as many ways as possible also maximizes your ability to access your memory.
- Do not wait until the night before an exam to study! Of course, you should be regularly reviewing your notes, but the preparation still takes time.
- A good first step in preparation is to read through your notes a couple of times. While you are doing this, you might also
- Highlight major topics and subtopics, with the goal of generating an outline of your notes. Even if you take your notes in outline form, this is a good practice. Major topics often extend through more than one day's lecture, and it is easy to lose track of the overall picture from day to day.
- Outline the entire set of notes. When you study a large body of information, you should study from concept to detail, not the other way around. It will, in fact, be much easier to learn the details if you take the time to learn the concept and theory first. The least efficient approach to studying is to attempt to memorize your notes from beginning to end. It's not the words which are important--it's the ideas.
- Consider ways of dealing with the information other than those used in class. The more ways you can manipulate and experience the material you are trying to learn, the more secure your understanding and memory will be. Some suggestions:
- Make charts, diagrams and graphs. Flashcards…
……………..repetition is the mother of skill”…………
- If you choose to study in a group, only study with others who are serious about the test.
- As you are studying, keep a running collection of "exam questions." If you seriously attempt to write difficult and meaningful questions, by the time you finish you will have created a formidable exam. When you begin to feel you're ready for your instructor's exam, take out your questions and see if you can answer them. If you can't, you may need to go back and reinforce some of the things you are trying to learn.
- Never, ever pull an "All-Nighter" on the night before an exam. This is a "freshman trick," meaning that good students learn very quickly that it is futile. What you may gain from extra study time won't compensate for the loss of alertness and ability to concentrate due to lack of sleep.
On exam day:
- Try not to "cram" during every spare moment before an exam. this only increases the feeling of desperation which leads to panic, and then to test anxiety. You may find it useful, on the night before an exam, to jot down a few ideas or facts which you wish to have fresh in your mind when you begin the exam. Read through your list a couple of times when you get up in the morning and/or just before you take the exam, then put it away. This kind of memory reinforcement not only improves your performance on the test, it also improves your long-term memory of the material.
- Listening to relaxing music can relieve some of the boredom of studying. Research has long shown that certain types of music help you to recall information. Information learned while listening to a particular song can often be remembered simply by “playing” the songs mentally in your head
Use Acronyms to Remember Information
In your quest for knowledge, you may have once heard of an odd term called “mnemonics”. However, even if you haven’t heard of this word, you have certainly heard of its many applications.
An acronym is simply an abbreviation formed using the initial letters of a word. These types of memory aids can help you to learn large quantities of information in a short period of time.
We all have different study techniques. But if you don’t have an effective one, you can try this and also manage your time properly.