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the books and notes in front of you to a reliable spot inside your head? The best way to facilitate that kind of "file transfer" is to develop good study habits, as outlined below. At first, it'll take a good deal of conscious effort to change your studying ways, but after a while, it'll become second nature, and studying will be easier to do. 1 Manage your time. Make a weekly schedule and devote a certain amount of time per day to studying. 2 Study in 20-50 minute chunks. It takes time for your brain to form new longterm memories, and you can't just keep studying flat out. Take 5-10 minute breaks (no more!) and do something physically active to get your blood flowing and make you more alert. Do a few jumping jacks, run around your house, play with the dog, whatever it takes. Do just enough to get yourself pumped, but not worn out.
Make enough time in your schedule to get enough sleep. Think of it this way: If you sleep only 4-5 hours, you'll probably need to double your study time in order to be as effective as if you'd gotten 7-9 hours of sleep. Study more and sleep less? That doesn't sound like a very good deal. Get a good night's sleep every night and you'll be making the best of your study time. If you end up a little sleep deprived despite your best efforts, take a short nap (20 minutes) before studying. Then do some physical activity (like you would do during a break) right before you start.
3 Find a good study spot. You should feel comfortable, but not so comfortable that you risk falling asleep--a bed isn't a very good study spot when you're tired! The place where you study should be relatively quiet (traffic outside your window and quiet library conversations are fine, but interrupting siblings and music blasting in the next room are not).
As far as music is concerned, that's up to you. Some people prefer silence, others prefer music in the background. If you belong to the latter group, stick to instrumental music (music that has no words like classical, soundtrack, trance, or some celtic) and that you're already familiar with (not something that's bound to distract you)--otherwise, your brain will "multi-task" and not be able to retain information as well.
Having the television on while you study is generally a bad idea.
4 Clear your mind. If you’ve got a lot on your mind take a moment to write yourself some notes about what you're thinking about before you start studying. This will help to clear your mind you focus all your thoughts on your work. 5 Snack smart while you study. Have your snacks prepared when you begin a study session--don't wait till you get hungry and go rummaging for food. Avoid any snacks or drinks that will give you a rush of energy, because with every rush comes a crash in which all the information you studied is lost to an intense desire to sleep. Focus on "slow release" carbohydrates, which not only give you a steady stream of energy, but they also boost serotonin, a brain chemical that makes you feel good: 6 Rewrite your notes at home. When you're in class, emphasize recording over understanding or neatness when you take notes. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try to understand or organize your notes at all; just don't waste time doing something in class that you can figure out or neaten up at home. Consider your in-class notes a "rough draft" of sorts. Rewrite your notes as soon after the class as possible, while
and another for your rewritten notes. Pretend you're teaching it to someone who doesn't know anything about the topic. like listening to music over several channels at once. The process of rewriting your notes is a more active approach to studying--it engages your mind in a way that just reading the notes doesn't. (These practices may make your textbook worth less when you sell it back to the bookstore. stopping to memorize each new fact as you come to it. If you have enough privacy. or underline the most important points in the body of the text. 7 Learn the most important facts first. or for entry into a profession. Same goes for drawing.the material is fresh in your mind and so you can fill in any gaps from memory. unfold it to see the answers inside. these portions also contain more information that is likely to be asked about on a test!) If you can. but others find that handwriting enhances their ability to remember the notes. If you're having trouble summarizing the material so that it "sticks" in your head. when your time is especially limited." 2 . this is done with index cards. it also helps to recite your summaries aloud in order to involve more senses in the activity of learning. Some people type their notes. Incorporate your summaries into your notes. for a comprehensive exam in your major. New information is acquired much more easily when you can relate it to material that you already know. Keep quizzing yourself until you get all the answers right reliably. Traditionally. This is also a great way to review the most important ideas just before a test. it will make the information it contains much more meaningful and easier to learn if you first take a few minutes to read the introduction.for a final examination. and the chapter summary to get a good idea of what the chapter is about before going on to read the chapter as a whole. for example. so that you can spot them more easily when you review the material. and help the main points to sink in. try teaching it to someone else. You can also just use a regular piece of paper folded (vertically) in half. o o When you are beginning to study a new chapter. for a graduate oral. the first sentence of every paragraph. the better. if there is a connection. Put the questions on the side you can see when the paper is folded. The more paraphrasing you do. o o o You may find it easier to keep two notebooks--one for your "rough draft" notes. the headings. but it may make it worth a great deal more to you at test time!) You can also read just these portions in order to quickly review the material you have learned while it is still fresh in your memory. use a highlighter. but you can also download computer programs that cut down on space and the cost of index cards. It's also a good way to periodically review in this manner to keep the main points of what you have already learned fresh in your mind if you need to remember a large amount of material for a longer period -. Don't just read the material from beginning to end. Remember: "Repetition is the mother of skill. It also helps to make notes in pencil in the margin in your own words to summarize or comment on important points. If you're studying anatomy. "re-draw" the system you're studying from memory. o o o o o 8 Make flash cards. (Word for word.
Organize the information with a mind map. Imagine every little detail. Use your senses--how does it smell? look? feel? sound? taste? Make a study sheet. choreograph a representative dance. 9 If your textbook has a vocabulary section. etc. margin spaces. but whenever there is an important concept in a particular field. You don't have to memorize them. or two if absolutely necessary. you can get a lot more control over your layout by changing font sizes. or a list of terms. Bring it around with you and look at it whenever you have downtime during the days leading up to the test. Better yet. Use visualization skills. (Just make sure that your "hydration" is non-alcoholic!) You should be alert and your mind should be calm before you begin your studies. take turns explaining them to each other. there is usually a special term to refer to it. Learn these terms. teachers frequently draw from these lists as a quick and easy way to make up test questions!) 10 Make associations. Pass them around and quiz each other. turn your study session into a game like Trivial Pursuit.o You can also turn your notes into flash cards using the Cornell notetaking system. (Besides. Try and condense the information you will need into one sheet.resist the urge to go on MSN or Facebook. draw a comic. Tackle them when you're most alert. Study the most challenging subjects first. Think about what you already learn and remember easily--song lyrics? choreography? pictures? Work that into your study habits. If you're having trouble memorizing a concept. that is--and have everyone bring over their flash cards. The most effective way to retain information is to "tie" it to existing information that's already lodged in your mind. Organize the study session into parts. If you type it up onto the computer. the better--we tend to remember silly things more than we remember boring things! Use mnemonics (memory aids). you can manage your time efficiently and get work done faster which leaves more time for sleep. The sillier and more outrageous. This way. The end result of mapping should be a web-like structure of words and ideas that are somehow related in the writer's mind. a glossary. Studying with a partner who is as serious about the subject as you can be a good motivator to work harder. which involves writing grouping your notes around keywords that you can quiz yourself on later by covering the notes and trying to remember what you wrote based on seeing only the keyword. and you will have gone a long way towards mastering the subject itself. review 3 . Rearrange the information is a sequence that's meaningful to you. 11 Make it a group effort. A 2% decrease in hydration can cause up to 20% loss of focus. write a catchy jingle about it (or write lyrics to the tune of your favorite song). Construct a movie in your mind that illustrates the concept you're trying to remember. How to Study efficiently • • • • • Try to stop being distracted . If anyone is unclear on a concept. Keep Hydrated. make sure that you understand these completely. Get some friends together--friends who are actually interested in studying. and be able to use them easily. and play it several times over. o o o o Take advantage of your learning style.
or something is worrying you. Pillows are not needed to study. Make sure you're not too comfy. print out and summarize again.) You can use hypnosis or self hypnosis to make sure you get enough sleep. "The only dumb question is the one that isn't asked!" o Try not to be absent when an important subject is going to be discussed. or your little sister?) Pay attention in class. Print out and highlight the important pieces. don't sign on to instant messaging to talk with your friends about that cute new guy ten minutes before you have to study the table of elements). this is often a great help in rapidly organizing and making your notes more meaningful!) Word process all your notes into multiple summaries. Your attitude greatly helps the outcome of your studying. how would you explain it to your mother. you may need to consult a school counsellor. and discuss concepts. If you stop and take time to think about the possibilities. Word process these pieces. If you can. (For example. (Try to teach it to each other so that you are sure you both get it. you might end up leaving something out because you think it's not worth studying! 4 . outline the chapter. as well as allowing you to study longer. in the present when they are most needed for motivation. • • • • Watch out for inclinations to procrastinate. it may be necessary to gain control of your emotions before you are able to successfully study on a regular basis. Try not to just memorize whatever you have learned. If you are not able to do this on your own. you can fall asleep doing so! Sit in a sturdy chair with all your notes on a desk. If possible. and try to teach the material to friends or to an imaginary audience. If you cannot study because you are just too tense. o Don't hesitate to ask questions or seek extra help during office hours if something is not clear to you. try to borrow the notes of somebody who is a good note-taker. Another strategy is to make a Powerpoint Presentation on the subject. Don't relax too much and think that the test is going to be so easy. Understand it and say/write the answer in your own words. it helps to "treat yourself" by giving yourself a special reward when you finish a meaningful unit of work. if you do. and experience the positive emotions associated with the achievement of your goals now. Late night studies are usually a waste of time. study no more than 20-50 minutes at a stretch. Try to regulate your moods when it's time to hit the books (e. If you're so excited you can't breathe. This will take the stress off writing with your hands. o If you are absent. overcome mental blocks. (If your word processor has an automatic outlining feature. you are not going to want to sit down and read about the Mesopotamian Era. and it may speed up the process. Many instructors have said. you should automatically be able to sense what will work for you and what won't.• • • • • • • • notes. Try typing. or your boyfriend or girlfriend. Sit where you are able to see and hear what is going on. or the rewards too weak. o o Just don't make the intervals between rewards too long. Begin to study 30-90 minutes after a meal.g.
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