I love to study on a stationary bike. I learned in college that I am a kinetic learner. If I can't ride a stationary bike, I write down the information long-hand so I am moving. The activity helps me remember my notes.
I read lots and often, then I find like minded people to discuss the subjects with in depth - so I get to formulate the knowledge into my own words and debate topics. It also helps me to 'hear' the information.
Finally I put the books down and I go do something physical - like go for a swim....that way the learning seems to 'percolate' in my mind for a while as I am busy doing something else. It seems to work wonders.
My favorite is probably spaced repetition (aka graduated intervals) in which you extend the time between each review of your study material. I find it mainly beneficial when learning a new language and it's probably not applicable for all material, but it leads to a very deep memory for me. I've always had pretty good memory, but this seems like it just sticks it WAY back in there and I can always go and find it if I search long enough. Pimsleur uses this technique in its language courses.
Studying for me starts in the classroom with solid and thorough note-taking. Important words, concepts, and phrases all go into my notes along with definitions and explanations where needed.
This engages the student on three levels:
Physically: You're writing the notes down.
Aurally: You have to listen to the speaker.
Visually: You see the notes as you write them down.
By engaging at least three learning and memory centers at once, I find that note taking it a huge help for myself. It also allows me to write down, in my own words, what everything means. Just because you have a textbook definition doesn't mean you have to use that in your own notes. Keeping in mind what your teacher or professor wants, you can touch on the necessities while re-framing it in a way that makes sense to you.
Finally, note-taking makes review a snap as you've got the important information right there. You went over it in class, the professor made it a point to write it on the board or tell it to you so it must be important. Reviewing my notes alongside the book or study guide sees me making the grades necessary to get on the Dean's List.
I like to study in the early hours of the morning (4.00am) when it is deliciously peaceful. The birds have come out and they sing to you while you are reading in a contemplative way. Soaking up the silence and whatever you are studying.
Then there is the studying while doing technique.
I like to study in a quiet room. I need silence to be able to concentrate.
For intense studying, I like to outline everything that I might be accountable for knowing and then split it up into portions that I study individually, with a given time allotted to each section based on length/complexity.
taking notes, making notes, and rewriting them over and over!
I tend to isolate myself at home late at night with ear plugs in, and I read and re read the passages over and over, then I pick out possible questions, and write them down.
I also highlight important prompt words, and quiz myself, until I can virtually see the text on the page with the book closed.
To write and understand what you have written, I know it sounds strange, but there have been times that what we write from text books or online sources, especially if done mechanically, does not make as much sense when read back.
Get the subject matter settled in your head, but dont cram for more than twenty minutes without taking a break, just a simple walk around the house whilst thinking of what you have studied lets it settle in, then go back for the next bit, break the subject down into "bite sized chuncks" and in doing this you also imprint the knowledge into your brain.
Above all dont panic or stay up too late trying to force it in, a couple of hours per night in the week preceeding, is enough if you are running up to an exam.
And a strange thing I have found over the years, read something totally different before going to sleep, something light and non related, (eg) a fiction story, it settles your mind.
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