There is so much competition within the academic world that having the proper study techniques is essential for survival. Unfortunately, students are not given lessons on how to study. The educational system has made it the student’s responsibility to learn his or her own way of learning. For some students, this becomes a difficult and challenging task because they take the wrong path of learning. These students may feel they are studying efficiently when they actually are not. There are students who are almost on the right track, who have fairly good study skills but just need that extra boost to take them to the top of the academic success.
I am going to teach you how to study smart and not hard. By using the simple techniques you will start to notice an improvement in your test scores and grades. Followed by a wonderful sense of accomplishment and esteem that will further encourage you to study smart.
Sit in front of the class
Students who sit in front of the classroom are more stimulated and get more out of a lecture class than those who sit in the back. This is because you are more likely to pay attention in class if you feel your instructor is only talking to you. This also reduces your chances of day dreaming and falling asleep, or being disrupted by some other pupil.
Be a good listener
Lectures especially in large classes tend to be boring for students. Students will often look around the room, daydream or even take a nap. This is the negative attitude some students have adopted. A good way to prevent the boredom is to develop a positive attitude. Sit up straight and concentrate on what the instructor is saying. Remind yourself that listening and taking good notes will benefit you during the examination.
Become a better note taker
Most students take lecture notes but they have trouble selecting what is and isn’t important. Some instructors will give their students a detailed outline of what they are going to say but some do not. So an approach you can take is understand the organization of the lecture early in the year or semester.
There are common phrases that instructors will use to let you know what is important. Here are a few examples:
- “Remember this…”
- “This is important…”
- “Let’s review the material..”
- “Write down this idea…”
- “The main point is…”
In addition to these phrases, there are other clues to watch out for. Here are a few examples:
- Points that the instructor stresses or repeats.
- Tone of voice. For example if the instructor slows down it may indicate that the information is important.
- Written information presented in class (e.g. overhead, chalkboard).
- Terms defined by the instructor.
Rewrite your lecture notes
To be successful in life you have to be organized, this takes into account your lecture notes. Lecture notes are never flawless; they are often inaccurate and incomplete. Revising and organizing your notes is helpful.
Revision should take place the day of the lecture when the information is still fresh in your mind. This way you are likely to make sense of what you have written.
Make revision a creative and fun exercise. Revise your notes with great imagination. The reason behind this idea is for you to enjoy reading your notes and at the same time increase your chances of recall. We are more likely to pay attention to things that are unusual and interesting to us. Here are some suggestions on creative note taking:
- Draw symbols.
- Use pictures rather than words.
- Type your notes.
- Use crayons, colored pens, paint and glitter.
- Use different material to write on (e.g. construction paper, card board).
Attend study sessions
Study sessions involve studying with other people such as, friends, tutors, classmates and teachers. These sessions enable you to ask questions, compare notes, quiz each other and share information. A small study group between two or three is usually more helpful than a large study group because it allows everyone to stay focused on the subject matter. Often in a large study group a series of minispeeches with no real discussion takes place. Everyone becomes occupied in socializing rather than learning.
Ask your instructor for help
Some students are intimidated or are afraid to approach their instructors for help. They view the instructor as a bad person who can outsmart them in anything. This leads to an outward show of being unfriendly and does not influence an appearance of cordiality by the instructor. Fight off negative thoughts. Remember the instructor is there to help you not to make your life pitiable. See your instructor after class or during office hours when you have questions. This will let your instructor know that you are concerned about learning the material. It shows you are trying which may determine the letter grade your instructor decides to give you.
Do extra credit
Never miss out on extra credit! You can never be sure what the final grade in the class will be. Extra credit is a chance to raise your grade. It could be the difference between a B+ and an A.
Plan a weekly schedule
The value of time is so great that it shouldn’t be used up on the thought of “What should I do next?” This is why making a schedule for each week is essential. Part of the reason a schedule is planned each week is for you to make sure that certain hours are put aside for studying. This is one way to avoid procrastination. Before making a schedule there are a few questions you need to ask yourself.
- What do I usually do each day?
- What do I need to achieve each week for each class?
- What is the amount of study time required for that week?
When you are determining what you usually do each day this means thinking about activities such as eating, working, attending class etc… Finding out what you need to achieve for each week for each class can be done by asking your instructor. Many times the instructor will hand out a syllabus on the first day of class describing what will be covered for that semester or year. Determining the amount of study time needed for that week will depend on how many classes you are taking, what type of class you are taking (need to spend more time in biology class than art class), and who’s your instructor. These are all the things you need to consider when making your schedule.
Study at a time that is best for you
Do you study in the morning, evening or at night? It doesn’t matter when you study just as long as it is at a time when you are better able to grasp and retain information. Some students study better in the early hours of the morning, while others study better at night. Check your schedule and see if you are able to study at your best time and make that a part of your schedule.
Select a regular place to study
Concentration becomes easier when studying is done in the same place. Cues will be set off in that environment which will let you know it’s time to study. This will help set a particular state of mind or feeling for studying.
When selecting a place, look for a favorable surrounding with good study conditions. Where you decide to study is up to your. It could be at home, in the library, or even at a park. However, some of the conditions you should consider is temperature, lighting, quietness and the comfort of your environment.
Usually after two hours you will become too tired to study. Concentrating becomes difficult so take a break. For example, watch television, have a snack (preferable something sweet to give you energy), or go for a walk. Just do something to keep your mind off studying for a while. Also you don’t have to wait two hours before you take a break. Rest periods between five to fifteen minutes should be taken at least every hour. For longer tasks, shorter rest periods are more beneficial. After your break, you will feel energized to resume your studies.
Turn the television and radio off
When the television or radio is on they serve as distractions that may cause you to lose your train of thought while you are studying. You may think that you are retaining the information that you are studying, but actually, you are not. We have a limited capacity for attending. In other words, we can attend to the radio or our studies but not both.
Avoid studying if you’re tired, sick or hungry
It becomes difficult to study and learn when you’re tired, sick or hungry. When you’re tired, do something to refresh yourself. For example, splash water on your face or go for a swim. When you are sick, the last thing on your mind is studying. My advice to you is drink tea with lemon and get some rest. When you’re hungry, your focus will only be on food, not on your studies. So satisfy your stomach and eat something.
Read, recall and summarize the chapters
There are three major steps in learning the chapters of a textbook. The first step is reading actively. Reading actively is intense reading that involves concentration. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself when reading actively.
- What are the main points of the chapter?
- What are the important details of the chapter?
- What are the important terms of the chapter? Hint: Usually important terms are italized or typed in boldface.
As you’re reading actively outline the main points, important details, and important terms with a highlighter. Highlighting will allow you to go back and summarize the essential parts of the chapter, which will later reduce your reading time.
The second step is recalling. After each paragraph, recall in your own words what you read. Also, at some point of the reading take the time to recall everything from the beginning of the chapter. By the end of the chapter you should be able to remember everything that was important.
The last step is summarizing. Most students believe that summarizing a chapter should be done a couple of days before an exam. However summarizing should occur from the first time you have studied your material. This way you will have a better chance of retaining the information you have studied; hence, your chances of forgetting the previously studied material decreases considerably.
Relate what you read to yourself
Relating information to the self enhances our ability to remember. This is because we pay more attention to information that is relevant to the self. For instance, when memorizing the bones of the body, touch your own body as you say the names. Relating information is fun and a simpler approach to learning.
Use a dictionary
As you’re reading, don’t pass up words you don’t know. Look it up in the dictionary to help clarify the meaning; otherwise, you might misinterpret what you read. A dictionary also comes in handy when you don’t know how to spell a word. So get in the habit of using a dictionary in spite of what you are reading or writing.
Stay current with your assignments
Complete homework and reading assignments before each class. This will help you avoid catching up and cramming before an exam. Cramming is ineffective because your brain can only retain a limited amount of information at time. So reading and learning the assignments over night is impossible. This is why you should put a greater emphasis on reviewing the night before an exam.
Read to yourself
The rate of reading is faster when you read to yourself than when you read out loud. This is because we tend to perfect every word that is vocalized, which slows the reading. We are less aware of perfecting words when we read to ourselves. As a matter of fact we often skip words without awareness. Even though we skip a word here or there, the sentence will still make sense to us.
Attend all your classes
There are days, which you won’t feel like going to class however think about the consequences that may follow. First, many instructors will make attendance a part of their grading system. So every time you skip a class points may be deducted from your grade. Second, you may miss information that is going to be on a test. Third, your instructor may decide to give a pop quiz without giving anyone the chance to take a make up exam. Therefore, an automatic F will be given to students who missed the class. If you do miss class, make sure you get the notes from one of your classmates.
Turn homework in on time
Most instructors will take off points from students who turn their homework in late. This will also give your instructor the impression that you are not a very responsible student and you don’t care about how well you do in class.
You should be able to notice a dramatic difference in your progress in school once these methods are used. You may also have a few ideas of your own that have been very helpful that you may add on. Just remember to study smart and not hard that is the true success of a student.