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10 Helpful Tips For More Efficient Studying

Updated on February 25, 2014
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Studying is Difficult

As a college student, I have found it very difficult to find a good way for me to study. All throughout high school, many students, including myself, discover it's hard to find good studying techniques. Notes, note cards, self-testing, annotating, and other approaches to studying are all great methods to use. But how do you know which one is the best for you to use? And how do you know which technique will generate the best results for you?

Washington Post Article Analysis

The Washington Post article regarding studying techniques that are both effective and ineffective is a real eye opener for many students. Several students nationwide are told to take notes using methods such as annotating the text, re-reading, and summarization. So why does the Washington Post say that some of the most widely used techniques are actually some of the most ineffective? As they stated, summarization, and highlighting may help students learn the information for temporary use, such as for a test, but students usually do not retain that information permanetely using those techniques.

That raises a few questions and concerns among students: "Why do I need to know this? I'm never going to use it later in life. This isn't going to help me get into college." Because students feel that way about certain topics, they refuse to use techniques that will help them better learn, understand and remember the information. Instead, they use techniques that will help them learn the information just long enough to pass a test. This is becoming a huge problem among students in every level of education all across the nation. Students simply don't have the time, or don't want to make the time to study. Are American students becoming lazy? Or are they simply finding more things to do with their time than to study? That's an opinion, rhetorical question that varies from student to student, but it is something that has become very apparent in schools today.

Now onto the moderately effective studying techniques. Those include methods such as elaboration, self-explanation, and interleaved practice. All three of those methods are very helpful for many different students. However, schools do not inform students of those more efficient techniques as often as they inform students about the more inefficient methods. For example, many teachers assign their students readings and ask for a summarization or for them to annotate the text. Very few teachers ask their students to further elaborate on the reading or relate the reading to their prior knowledge or personal experiences. However, many high school teachers are starting to steer in the direction of connecting homework assignments to their student's personal lives. Teachers are also increasing the amount of engagement that occurs both inside and outside of the classroom.

Another question is raised due to the growing number of teachers using moderately efficient methods to teach their students: "Why are teachers now just beginning to better engage their students with assignments?". Again, that's a question that varies from teacher to teacher. But what I can say from my own personal high school experience is that teachers are becoming more aware of the fact that students are only learning information for temporary use such as for a test, exam, or project. Teachers are now trying to help their students really learn the information they're teaching rather than just "memorizing" it. It's not that teachers were lazy in the past, it's just the fact that teachers have now opened their eyes to the fact that students are not actually learning but rather just memorizing.

Lastly, the most efficient studying methods according to the Washington Post are; practice testing and distributed practice. These techniques, I believe, seem to be more common with students and teachers than what the "moderately efficient" methods are. Many students seem to test themselves on the material to see just how much they really know. However, do students really take the time to study a little every day? I highly doubt that. If students really studied a little every day, cramming would be nonexistent, and test scores would most definitely be higher. Although few students take part in distributed practice, it is a very efficient and effective way to not only memorize the information necessary for a test, but to also really learn it and retain it for a longer period of time.

In the end, everyone is different when it comes to learning. Everyone learns differently, which is why many teachers have a difficult time assigning homework for things such as reading. Many students prefer to study in ways in which the Washington Post says are the more inefficient ways to study. But if those particular methods work well for that student, then they should continue to use those methods in the future. This hub was not created to persuade people into thinking that one studying technique is better than another. It was simply to be used as an eye opener for some of the most popular studying methods used by students today. I hope that this hub helped some parents, teachers, and students realize that studying is a difficult thing, but it's okay to struggle with studying because there are numerous ways to do it.


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