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HOW TO STUDY PROPERLY

Dean D.W. Brinkerhoff, Former Assistant to the Dean, Purdue University, Fort Wayne Campus

S: Why should I worry about “how to study?”
D: Unfortunately, not all students learned how to study in high school. They think that all they
have to do in college is study harder and longer.

S: What do you feel is one of the most important tips on studying in college?
D: The most important tip, is that “There is no substitute for daily preparation.”

S: Why do so many students fail in college?
D: Readmission committees are one place to go for an answer. Students trying to gain
readmittance to a university give some of the following as reasons why they did not succeed in
the first place: lack of motivation, poor study habits, lack of confidence, inability to plan study
time, illness, too much outside employment, and failure to make basic academic and social
adjustment.

S: Are lecture notes still the “in” thing?
D: They’re the “in” thing if you want to stay in college. In essence, they are for later use. Once
given, you can’t go back to a lecture. They enable a student to go over a lecture six weeks after
it was given.

S: Okay, how should I prepare to take lecture notes?
D: First, get a three ring 8 ½ x 11 notebook. This is so you can have all of your notes and
handouts in one place, and have a divider for each course. Second, sit where you can see and
hear the instructor. Studies have shown that the smarter students sit in the middle of the room,
the poorest in the back.

S: Is there a “best” system for taking notes?
D: No. Any note-taking system has to vary with the professor’s lecture technique. You can use
the standard outline form, a fact-concept system, random notes, or indent to identify important
points. I like to advise freshmen to take too many instead of too few notes because you can boil
them down later.

S: Once I’ve got notes, how do I use them later?
D: After taking lecture notes, you should review and edit them so you can understand the
important points six weeks from the time they were taken. You should correlate your lecture
notes with the appropriate textbook readings, lab experiments, and outside references. You
should review your notes regularly and develop questions as you do so. This will help at test
time to formulate the same types of questions that the professor will ask.

S: Once the course is over can I bury my notes?
D: Hardly! You should save them to use as building blocks for future courses. If nothing else, a
good friend or the fraternity/sorority house might want them at a later date.

S:\Leadership Library\HOW TO STUDY PROPERLY.doc

so the material will be fresh in your mind. The key to studying for a college exam is Periodic review. as you read. A schedule also eliminates worry and confusion about what is coming next. Some students make a simple exam difficult simply because they do not know how to study for it. I always recommend that a college reading course be taken the first semester if at all possible. One system involves the use of note cards. Also. paraphrase. On the other hand. the question of reading speed should be geared to what you’re reading. schedule at least one hour of study and review as soon after class as possible. Are they really difficult? How do you study for them? Why have tests anyway? D: You should think of most tests as teaching tools. you can then arrange the 4 x 6 cards into a logical sequence and begin writing. S: Is there a “system” for writing a term paper? D: Yes. S: I’ve heard so much about college level tests. if any material that is new and needs to be learned at exam time. a considerable amount of your time will be spent reading. the source of that information. there will be little. When ou are finished with your research. when test time comes. Schedule study time for a course as near as possible to the time of the class. You can’t read a novel and nuclear physics at the same rate. remember that reading involves eye fixations on a group of words. you should attempt to get a few more words in each fixation that you make. “ There is no substitute for daily preparation. S: Are there some basic rules of scheduling that I can use? D: Yes. Each 4x6 card should contain one unit of information. College exams seem more difficult because more material is covered on them and there are many different types of tests given. will see you to success. By making a weekly schedule in advance you know exactly what to study and when to study it. or an original idea. these are your bonus study hours. if followed religiously. as well as a measuring device. Use 3 x 5 cards for the bibliographical references. not. and whether it is a quote. Any course with frequent quizzes and class exercises should be studied just before the class. recitation classes should be studied just prior to the class itself. S: Will I spend a lot of time reading assignments and other information? D: Yes. If the course is a lecture type.doc . So. S: Last question! Can you sum all of this up and give me one key that will lead me to success in college? D: As I previously stated. This is shy speed reading and comprehension are so important to college freshmen. Just arrange the bibliography cards.” This. and the term paper is completed. as commonly thought. If you review regularly.S: Why is scheduling my time one of the keys to success in college? D: Scheduling saves time. a sort of sweeping movement continually in process along the page. it’s right there in black and white. S: Do you have any other “tips” for a college freshman regarding reading? D: First. First and foremost set up a schedule so that you will not be completing the paper the night before it is due. while 4 x 6 cards can be used for reference notes to be used in the body of the paper. Actually. They are useful as a teaching tool because they force you to organize your material in your mind as you prepare for the exam. One thing college students tend to disregard are daytime hours. Good luck! S:\Leadership Library\HOW TO STUDY PROPERLY.