How to study effectively - guide to effective learning skills
Effective learning skills
Effective learning skills or effective study skills are what decide your success or failure at college or high school. Most teenagers have difficulty sitting down to study, concentrating on the job at hand and being fully equipped for an exam much in advance. This article here is specially meant for those who have this question how do I study and study well? Or how do I make good grades? Success or failure depends heavily upon how well one is prepared, how efficiently the time at hand has been utilized and how much has been retained at the end of all studying. Here are some comprehensive tips or guide to effective learning skills and getting maximum results out of the time that has been put to use.
How to study effectively?
Prepare the environment around you before you start studying. Make sure that your room is in order, you have completed all your tasks at hand and the time that you have allotted to study will not be disrupted by other activities. Switch off your mobile phone, TV and any other source of distraction. Get your table organized first. Ensure only what you need to study is there on your table.
Prepare your mind for studying As you are going about preparing your physical environment, prepare your mind for studying. Decide how many chapters you need to study within a given time. Take only what you can accomplish. Do not let anxiety or fear come in even before you start studying. Tell yourself since you have set achievable goals, you can do it. Every time doubts arise during a study period, keep telling yourself that you can study effectively and achieve your goals.
Create a study routine
Have specific hours of study which is purely devoted for studying; make sure that whatever your other activities may be, you are at your desk ready to study. Having a routine creates an effective learning habit. It also mentally prepares you for the task at hand. When you have a set routine, it is easy to tell friends not to call you during these times and also to ensure that you do not get distracted by activities at home. It is very important to keep your mind stuck on to the job at hand. A routine always helps you because you do not have a choice. It also sends clear messages to others that this is your study time and you are not to be disturbed.
Effective Time management for effective learning
Set goals Having long term goals will help keep the bigger picture in mind. This will be based more on time frames and the amount of studying to be done during those periods. While setting long term goals make sure you build in a few days into your schedule for any contingencies. Also build in revision time at the end of the term.
Short term goals are very important. They may be for weeks or even days which are very specific and goal oriented. These include having proper time tables at hand. Having a bulletin board will serve as a reminder for topics that need your attention, what has to be completed, where you are lagging behind or what are the specific doubts that need more focus. Having it above your study desk would be extremely useful.
Decide to work according to the schedule you have made for yourself. Your commitment to your goals is what will determine your success.
Difficult chapters first
As you are setting out to study take up the most difficult chapters first. It is easier to plan your time and adjust it accordingly when you tackle the difficult chapters first. It will enable you to devote more time and attention to those areas which need attention. Once you are through with the difficult chapters, the easier chapters do not appear to be Herculean any more so there is less anxiety towards the end.
Summarize or review at the end of every study session
At the end of every study session, revise, review, recollect and summarize what you have studied. Make sure that you have put these points very briefly somewhere on your text or notebook . This will help you remember the key points without having to spend too much time on what you have already studied when you get back to it later.
Take frequent breaks: Never study in marathon sessions, your mind needs refreshing after 45 minutes, so make sure you take a break of 10 to 15 minutes, not more before you get back to studying. Also ensure that these breaks do not take much longer for you may have to prepare your mind once again to get back into the study mode. During the breaks, watching TV or playing video games will actually not help refresh your mind because they keep your mind active. When taking a break, go out inhale some fresh air, get into some rigorous physical activity like playing games which will help you take in enough oxygen which will refresh you mentally.
Avoid time wasters What most people do not know is that, when you have learned something but have forgotten and you are trying to remember it with no success, is high up on the list of time wasters. Look up the answers rather than struggle to remember. Studies have proved that when you try to remember something that you don’t remember, you tend to get into the error mode, so even when you study it right later, you will find yourself making errors because your mind has recorded the error mode where you have spent more time. It is best to look up answers immediately, repeat them a few times over, and if possible, look up the same information on the internet or from a different source.
Improving study habits and making good grades
Studies have proved (Bjork, 2001) that you need a number of sessions to process information adequately. One marathon session may never be enough. Psychology has proved that if you need to retain some information, you have to give the subject enough attention. Studying in long cramming sessions, loads a lot of information into your short term memory. What is there in your short term memory may not be retained completely by your mind. You may find yourself forgetting a lot of details. To convert information from short term to long term memory, you need to repeatedly pay attention to the information at hand. A number of study sessions helps transfer information from short term memory to long term memory.
Reduce all distractions, both internal and external to improve your concentration. It is easier to reduce external distraction but it would take a lot of effort from your side to reduce internal distraction. You really need to switch off all those activities that keep taking your mind back to them. For example, dating, watching movies, television, outings with friends, video games, etc. These tend to suck up a lot of your study time. Even though you seem to be with your books you are not actually studying. You also have the mental satisfaction of having studied though your mind has been elsewhere. Most people are often fooled by the fact that they have studied for long periods of time and students often ask each other how many hours they have studied. Not only is it superfluous and self- deceiving, it does not mean a thing. If you have studied with absolute concentration for ten minutes, it could be worth more than three hours of studying by rote without concentration.
Your emotional state decides your level of learning
Try to downplay anxiety, frustration, nervousness or worry at any point of time before you sit down to study. Being worried or anxious or nervous affects your concentration. So just do your bit and relax. Another huge time - waster is worrying and calling up your friends. You not only focus on your negative state of mind, but you are also wasting someone else’s time.
Be open to receiving inputs and feedback
Taking inputs from those who have conquered the task efficiently is a must, feedback from teachers with specific inputs regarding the areas where you need concentrate helps you focus better. Taking inputs from peers whenever you have a problem would also be helpful, two heads are better than one. But make sure these clarification times do not run into your study time or those of the others. A bulletin board will help you here. Make notes of those problem areas where you need clarification and put them on the notice board so that at a later time you could get required clarification from your friends or teachers.
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Study smart - effective learning skills or effective study skills
Active listening in class helps you concentrate better while note taking skills enhance your concentration further. When you practice good note taking skills, revisions become easier and more effective.
One sure-fire method for effective learning or studying is to learn repeatedly. Practice makes perfect. Concepts that are frequently repeated are never forgotten
Study concepts that are interrelated
Plan to study chapters that are related to each other at one go. Studying concepts that are related, linking them and understanding them together will help you retain concepts for a longer period of time. Using mnemonic techniques would also help you remember concepts well. Mnemonic techniques are utilising imagery, humour, joke, song for a particular concept to help you remember it.
Teach as you learn
Teaching is twice learning. Whatever you have learnt gets fully engraved in your memory by repetition. When you teach, you repeat and elaborate concepts that you know. You also rehearse what you have learnt. Quite often, while you elaborate concepts, you will realize which part of the concept you have understood and which part you have not. This leads to revision of concepts. When you elaborate on what you have learnt, the concepts become more clear, which in turn ensures that they stay in your memory for a longer period of time Teaching your friends or someone who has not understood the concept will help you understand and retain the concept better. If you do not have anyone to teach, try teaching yourself, doing it exactly the way you would teach someone else.
Visualisation is another technique to retain what you have studied in your memory. Visualising procedures, techniques, processes in your minds eye help them to be retained in your memory over long periods of time.
Use different techniques of studying or learning.
Learning has to be consistent and methodical. Cramming up chapters at the last minute is a very unreliable method of learning. Since most of the information is stored in the short term memory, as newer information is being input, the older information tends to fade out, and thereby, you tend to forget a lot of information even though you have studied.
Employing other effective learning techniques like doing things practically, looking up concepts on the internet, reading encyclopedias, attending lectures on the subject and other tools, as audio’s or audio -visual CDs on the subject will also help to enhance your concentration and memory. Choose those methods that you are best suited to, and you will see a lot of progress.
Take care of yourself to study well
Have nutritious, natural, healthy food Ignoring your health is one major flaws that teenagers or college students have, this could turn out to be a major stumbling block to your success. Falling sick could cut down your study time or even stop you from taking the exam or test for which you are preparing. Take care of yourself, eat good nutritious natural foods, avoid junk food and drink plenty of water. Drinking a lot of water helps the flow of your blood to your brain and keeps you refreshed and attentive throughout your study period. Avoid all sugary foods. There are some foods which are excellent for your brain, you should try to include such brain foods in your normal diet.
Include physical activity in your schedule
Short spurts of activity, exercise and plenty of fresh air will also help your body to co-operate with your mind. Having prepared sufficiently and with so much effort, your immunity may go down so you really need to ensure that you are in the best of health and do not fall sick during the most important period of your life.
Your body needs sufficient amount of rest. Most often students cram at the last minute from both ends. Neither your body nor your mind can take that kind of strain. You need to ensure that you get at least 8 to 9 hours of sleep every day, so that you are fully awake, alert and well able to perform to your potential. Sleep disturbances lead to various other problems like anxiety, depression, lowering of immunity, difficulty in concentrating, emotional upheavals, and stress and strain. None of these help you to perform to the level that you are capable of. It is absolutely necessary to take good care of yourself in the period running up to the exams as well.
If you have adhered to most of these techniques, you are sure to be successful in your efforts and come at top of the class. And here’s wishing you all the very best in all your endeavors.
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