Whether you’re studying for a test or simply want to improve your study skills, it’s important to remember to study smarter, not harder. All of the effort you put into studying will be wasted if you don’t have effective strategies in place. Below are some dependable strategies used by students of all ages. Once you implement these methods into your routine, you’ll find that studying can be more efficient and easier to do.
Take good notes
Taking good notes is important as it sets the framework of good study habits. Not only are you staying on top of your lessons, you are also staying organized with your lecture notes, readings, and assignments. Make sure all of your class notes are organized in a separate notebook or binder.
Furthermore, developing a good note-taking system is key. If you don’t have one already, there are five systems you can test out: (1) The Cornell Method; (2) The Outlining Method; (3) The Mapping Method; (4) The Charting Method; and (5) The Sentence Method (for more information on each of these systems, I’ve attached an article in the ‘References’ section below). Experiment with a method that best suits you, so you will find yourself more organized and focused on the teacher during class.
Adopt a learning style that works for you
As you know, everyone learns differently. How you retain information may be different from the way your friend learns. You’ve probably heard that there are learning styles, also known as VARK, that can help you assess your preference. The learning styles are as follows:
Visual learners learn best when information is presented in a graphic arrangement of charts, layouts, or diagrams. For visual learners, organizing information as graphics is easier than arranging textual information, like presentation slides loaded with information.
Auditory learners retain information better when they listen to lectures, recorded presentations, or discussions. Their strengths tend to emerge in group activities, where they can discuss topics, or as they study with better retention when they read their notes out loud. These students might not feel the need to take notes, but it is still an important habit to adopt.
Reading and writing learners work well by reading information presented in sequential order, like PowerPoint slides or textbooks. As such, writing down notes in class allows them to easily process and remember information.
Also known as tactile learners, kinesthetic learners thrive with a hands-on approach. Students will find more success in classes that encourage physical learning than lectures. Using flashcards for memorization or participating in class activities are effective ways of studying for this type of learner.
Set a study space and study time
Having a dedicated study space that is free of clutter and has all of your essentials, like pencils, erasers, pens, and highlighters, is key to get you in the zone to study. Furthermore, if you are more alert in the morning, take advantage of that time by studying then. On the contrary, if you are a night owl and retain more information in the evening, study at that time. Find the time that works best for you and plan study blocks accordingly.
Reviewing on a regular basis is important for effective studying. Why? It’ll be easier to retain information after your class is over, especially if you take good notes using one of the note-taking methods I’ve mentioned above. Review your notes for 30 minutes each day for each class. Get into this routine so when you have an upcoming test, you will simply have to recall the information you already reviewed over the weeks.
Quiz yourself and study with friends
As you review your notes, quiz yourself after each concept you learned. Make note of any incorrect answer and study that concept again before your study period is over. Create flashcards, or poster boards with the information you’ve learned, and teach it to a family member. You can also study with friends. Keep in mind that you and your friends might have different learning styles, but this makes it more fun and interactive.
These strategies helped me study more effectively throughout high school and university. I was able to harness the learning style that suited me best, and as a result, I used it every day during my meetings and presentations. To this day, I use it strategically while teaching to my students’ preferred learning style. Studying is a habit and once you make it a part of your daily routine, you will be able to recall information efficiently and quickly.
Good Notes (May 9, 2018). The Best Note-Taking Methods. Retrieved on November 9th, 2020 via https://medium.goodnotes.com/the-best-note-taking-methods-for-college-students-451f412e264e