The top 4 ways to start studying effectively

In the previous article we looked at how to create notes and make some study resources so that you can go about studying. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to make those notes and you’re now ready to get stuck in and have some fun along the way!

This week you’ll learn about the most effective ways to study and to get the information from the working memory where you can use it for a short time, to the long term memory where you can apply it to the exam questions.

Remember from last week that reading information is one of the least effective ways to study? Commonly we’re just copying out notes, reading what we’ve written, or doing practice questions before we even know the content. The most important thing to incorporate into any study strategy is to ensure that you’re actively engaging with the material. The strategies you’ll learn this week all use this principle to ensure you’re going to remember what you need to!

 

Here’s a list of the top four ways to start studying effectively:

  1. Using analogies to make it more memorable

An analogy is finding a different way to explain something, using a concept or idea that you already understand.
These are really good for helping you to understand something new, and then be able to remember it later on. For example, if you’re trying to understand how cells work in Biology, seeing the cell as a factory can help you to understand it in more familiar terms

  1. Pretend you’re teaching yourself, or actually teach someone else

Teaching someone else is a great way to make sure you understand something, and can explain it clearly and precisely. If you can teach without your notes, then you should be set for the exam! If you can’t find someone who you can teach the material to, pretend that you are explaining it to yourself. Do it out loud, so that you create a sound-based memory as well. We all remember the interesting story that guy told at lunch, so why not make studying similar?

  1. Recreate your notes or mind map without looking at them

As you recreate your notes from memory, you’ll start to remember them. It’s the basic idea of repeating what you do until you can remember it. For example, if you can reproduce the mind map that shows the connections between different types of organic chemistry reactions, then you’re likely to remember it for the exam. If you find that you’re struggling to remember them, focus on the links in the mind map rather than the information itself. Once you’ve got the links, the ideas will follow.

  1. Study in the moments where you’re not doing anything

You’re on the bus, you’re waiting in line for food, you’re waiting for your friends to show up at the cinema – whatever you would do then (I’m guessing use social media…) replace it with study! Pull out the flashcards or use a flashcard app, and go through what you need to know for a certain subject. We waste so much time doing nothing, scrolling through Facebook feeds or waiting for something to happen, and when you feel like you’re short of time you could be using these precious minutes when you’re in between tasks to get a bit of study done.

So that’s the four tips – use these and you’ll be well on your way to knowing and remembering the content. The final step in the studying process is to do some practice exams so you know what you’re in for, how much time you take to answer a question, and what you still need to study.

Good luck with putting these study methods into place – they may seem weird at first, but trust me – they work! Next week we’ll look at minimising stress and anxiety before the exams hit.

 

Originally published in Tearaway Magazine, http://tearaway.co.nz/top-four-ways-start-studying-effectively/ October 31, 2016.

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