The A-Z of Unique and Effective Study Techniques - Part 1: A - I
When I was in school, I always found it hard to study. When I did actually get around to doing it though, I found that if I ‘applied myself’ I could actually do well.
I’ve found numerous ways, some my own and others learned, that help me get in the mood for study and working and that are effective ways of learning. Everyone is unique and saying that there is only one way to study is a contradiction to our individuality.
Some of these things that I practice nowadays I wish I knew when I was back in school. Now that I’m older, I actually don’t mind it so much. I’ve made peace with the fact that it doesn’t matter if you’re a kid in school, college, or a person at work, there will always be a time when you have to study. You never stop learning as long as you’re alive.
As a writer even, you have to study, whether it’s researching, looking up facts and quotes, and putting as much effort into producing a great article as possible.
Firstly, you’ll find that you need to be in the right mood for studying and working hard. It doesn’t help being tired and lazy or hyperactive and not being able to sit down and do what needs to be done.
In this first article, we start off from ‘A’ and continue on to ‘I’.
Actively involved in study
Just reading you work won’t get you anywhere. You need to make notes, keywords, highlight things, underline things, and colour-code items as well to add emphasis and actually become interested in what you’re doing. Reading without revision also means that at the end of the week you’ll remember nothing.
It makes things easier if you can relate you studying to something you can compare it to.
Abbreviations and acronyms
I have a habit of making sentences or words, even if they are illogical or non-sensible to the average person. You can take the first letter or letters from each word and string them together.
It’s better to study for forty minutes and take a break rather than to sit and try to concentrate for hours on end. This is true for two reasons: firstly, because the chances of your naturally short attention span lasting hours and taking in everything is slim, and because after hours of sitting there you will be too exhausted to go on for the rest of the day, and you may even avoid it for the rest of the week.
Calendar and year planner
It’s good to keep a calendar and a year planner, for marking dates throughout the year. Perhaps they are important and you know that you will have to work harder on one of the days in the week to make up for it. If you don’t work today, you must work twice as hard tomorrow.
We have naturally short attention spans and we need breaks every now and again. You also need to avoid stimulants like caffeine and depressants like alcohol. These will dampen your ability to sit down and work.
In school we always had to do ‘corrections’. Basically, if we got an answer wrong, when we got our tests or work back, we had to fill in the correct answer which the teacher might have given us or we had to redo it.
Do the worst first, and then again…
This was a saying I heard from a friend when I was still in school. When he did his homework he would always tackle the hardest parts first and then he could do the easy stuff later. When there’s pressure though, like in exams, it’s better to do the questions you know first and get them over and done with, otherwise if you waste time on the hard ones, you may not have enough time to do the ones you are knowledgeable about.
They say that pictures are worth a thousand words. Maybe you can draw a diagram, or even a cartoon that will help you better understand, or you can look for one that’s been drawn by someone else.
When it comes to exams, it’s one thing to know the material that you’ve studied, but it’s something different to be prepared for the questions you’ll encounter in the paper. Try going through old exam papers; you can find them in libraries, schools and even online as well.
Forums With some colleges, there are virtual campuses that students can get together in, or perhaps, like many sites, you can come across one specifically dealing with your subject that you can talk to other people about.
When it comes to studying, you should make a goal to just do so much every day. When you reach this goal, then aim for something more, like studying for half an hour, and then studying for an hour. Also remember to take breaks between sessions though.
When it comes to homework, apart from raising the energy after a long day on campus, at school or at work, it’s about where you can get help for homework assignments. You can go online and get answers at any of the popular sites like Yahoo Answers, Wiki Answers etc. Some colleges supervise homework or provide tutors for help that you can contact by e-mail or phone.
If you have one, you can use the podcasts you download or record yourself to take with you wherever you go. Read more about this in Part 2, under Podcasts.
Look out for Part II in the series that covers ‘J’ to ‘P’.
“I have been studying the traits and dispositions of the "lower animals" (so called) and contrasting them with the traits and dispositions of man. I find the result humiliating to me.”— Mark Twain
© 2009 Anti-Valentine