Studying More Efficiently
- Take breaks
- Use a keyword to refocus yourself
- Take good notes in class
- Rewrite your notes at home
- Make things interesting
- Study the important vocabulary
- Study the important vocabulary.
- Make a study group.
If you are studying for a few hours at a time, take 5-minute breaks every half hour or so. This helps your joints by moving them around after sitting for a long while; it also helps your mind relax, which can help you more effectively remember the material. This also helps keep you from losing focus.
- Do something physically activeto get your blood flowing and make you more alert. Do a few jumping jacks, run around your house, play with the dog, do some squats, or whatever it takes. Do just enough to get yourself pumped, but not worn out.
- Use a keyword to refocus yourself.
Find a keyword related to what you are studying, and whenever you lose concentration, feel distracted, or your mind wanders to something else, start saying that keyword repeatedly in your mind until you come back to the topic at hand. The keyword in this technique is not a single, fixed word but keeps changing according to your study or work. There are no rules to select the keyword and whichever word the person feels that it will bring back his concentration can be used as a keyword.
- Take good notes in class.
When in class, make sure you take the best notes you can. This doesn’t mean going for neatness or writing everything in complete sentences. You want to catch all the important information. Sometimes, you may write down a term the teacher says, then go home and copy the definition out of your textbook. Try to write down as much as you can.
- Taking good notes in class will force you to stay alert and pay attention to everything that is going on in the class. It’ll also help keep you from falling asleep.
- Use abbreviations. This helps you so that you can quickly jot down words without spelling anything out. Try coming up with your own abbreviation system, or use common ones like b/tfor between, bc for because, wo for without, and cd for
- Ask questions in class as they pop into your brain, or make a contribution to the class discussion. Another way to question or make a connection is to jot it in the margin of your notes. You can look the question up when you get home, or you can piece together the connection when you are studying that day.
- Rewrite your notes at home.
When you take notes, focus on recording the information over understanding or neatness. Rewrite your notes as soon after the class as possible, while the material is fresh in your mind so that you can fill in any gaps completely from memory. The process of rewriting your notes is a more active approach to studying by making you actively engage your mind with the information. You can easily zone out if you’re just reading. Writing them makes you think about the information.
- That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to understand or organize your notes at all; just don’t waste time doing something in class that you can figure out or neaten up at home. Consider your in-class notes a “rough draft.”
- You may find it easier to keep two notebooks–one for your “rough draft” notes, and another for your rewritten notes.
- Make things interesting.
Logical arguments will not give you motivation to study. Thinking, “if I study hard, I will get into a good university and get a good job,” will not interest you. Find something interesting in what you study. Try to find the beauty of every subject, and most importantly, try to link it with the events of your life and things that interest you.
- This linking may be conscious, like performing chemical reactions, physical experiments, or manual mathematics calculations in order to prove a formula, or unconscious, like going to the park, looking at the leaves, and thinking, “Hmm, let me review the parts of the leaf we learned in bio class last week.”
- Study hard subjects first.
Start with the most difficult subjects or concepts at the beginning of your study session. That way you have enough time to study them and you are more energetic and alert. Save the easier stuff for later.
- Learn the most important facts first. Don’t just read the material from beginning to end. Stop to memorize each new fact as you come to it. New information is acquired much more easily when you can relate it to material that you already know. Don’t spend a lot of time studying things that won’t be on the test. Focus all your energy on the important information.
- Study the important vocabulary.
Look for vocabulary lists or words in bold in the chapter. Find out if your textbook has a vocabulary section, a glossary, or a list of terms and make sure that you understand these completely. You don’t have to memorize them, but whenever there is an important concept in a particular field, there is usually a special term to refer to it. Learn these terms, and be able to use them easily, and you will have gone a long way towards mastering the subject itself.
- Make a study group.
Get 3-4 friends or classmates together and have everyone bring over their flash cards. Pass them around and quiz each other. If anyone is unclear on a concept, take turns explaining them to each other. Better yet, turn your study session into a game like Trivial Pursuit.
- Divide concepts among the members and have each member teach or explain the concept to the rest of the group.
- Divide lectures among the group and have each group summarize the key concepts. They can present it to the group or create an outline or 1-page summary for the rest of the group.
- Develop a weekly study group. Spend each week covering a new topic. That way you study throughout the semester instead of just at the end.
Make sure they are people who are actually interested in studying.