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How to Study


People always treat this subject as if it is something one just inherently knows, rather like blowing your nose or walking. “Yeah, it has a learning curve, but it`s no big deal.”

Studying is not just important for students like me. It`s how you learn new languages, the new procedures on removing crowns that you learned at that last seminar. It`s how you remember how the t wire connects to the main frame, and how you remember Javascript as well as that new computer language that you`ve been working on. It is how you absorb new information, how you hold on to old information, and how you make accessing your brain`s memory banks a no brainer.

It`s important for college students, but it is a skill that is important for the rest of life as well.

crammingSo, I have some quick ideas for those who don`t understand studying to get it done, especially since this is midterms for most of us.

  • Skim the Text
    • When you have to take notes from 1,000 pages in your text book, you need to get through all of that information in a hurry. If your professor gave you a reading guide, only read the sections he recommends.
    • If you are left to yourself, flip through the book and write down bit s of information that seem important. Are there ten pages explaining the battle of Hastings? Write down the battle, the date, the big players (That`d be the kings and major lords, in this case) and the main reason for the battle. For this one, that would be because the seconds sons and lords from Normandy wanted to conquer the kingdom of England.
  • Play Games
    • Use memory games, by making songs (ABCs song is a good template for a learning song) and using mnuemonics. (Richard of York Gave Battle In Vain= Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet are the order of colors in the rainbow.)
    • Use matching and word games
      • make fact cards and play the card game memory with them
      • Cover the key word, and remember the main points. Uncover the keyword to check if you were right.
    • Use a website.
      • Throughout the semester I`ve been entering key facts into quizlet, a website that lets me play games like hangman and memory right on the computer. This is a lot handier than a pack of cue cards when you only have a few minutes between classes or at the Metro stop to do some review work.
  • Make some Crafts
    • A lot of people make and use flipbooks and other things to help them remember. The act of making and copying notes to them is helpful, as well as a bit more interesting than reading the same notes over and over. There are a million suggestions and tutorials on Google.
  • Connect the Dots
    • A lot of things you have to study, like the rock cycle or Krebs cycle, are cycles that require you to remember each step, and all of the connections. Draw a picture or diagram to show how each step connects, so you can see them in a more sensible way than a bunch of words on a page.
  • Study Your Notes
    • It can be best to study your text and class notes by rereading them. To do this, the best system I`ve found is to follow each word with your finger, and read them out loud. That way you are utilizing your auditory, visual, reading/writing, and kinetic learning styles.

    Highlight the keywords. If you do this too much, it will lose it`s usefulness, so be frugal with your highlighter. In our example above, I would highlight Battle of Hastings, then leave the rest of the notes about that battle colorless.                                    

Perhaps the most useful study advice I have is to not wait until Midterms are around the corner before you begin studying. Just a glance and a few study games a week all semester long, and you won`t need to pull a single all nighter in order to attain and retain all of the information.

Look over your notes often, and you`ll be more concerned about Spring Break than any tests next year.

How do you study, and take notes? Is this relevant once you leave school, or am I all wrong?

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6 comments

  1. Writing the 1st letter of each word helps memorize a quote. It works for bible verses.
    Example: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” would look like this f g s l t w, t h g h o s, t w b i h s n p b h e l.

    1. Why, that`s quite a system! I have to admit, I`m a little confused figuring out how to do that memory trick more than actually memorizing it, but I think once I used it a little bit I could get quite comfortable in it. Thanks for sharing this idea!

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