Apparently, it’s not enough to just study, you also should learn how to study. I was lucky enough to get advice from teachers at an early age. Despite that, I’m still adapting my techniques because not only does it differ what works between people but I also don’t always prefer the same things.
How I study if affected by many factors including (but not bound to)
- My routine
- My school schedule
- Teacher’s way of teaching
- What kind of material is provided
- The subject
- The people I study with
Since I have different circumstances and different preferred ways of studying I need to know more than one way of studying. It’s like building a toolbox so that you can grab whatever you need when you need it. If you only had a hammer you would obviously use it for everything even though it might not be very efficient.
Here are some of the things I like to be aware of when I want to study efficiently.
First of all, no one is good at something they haven’t done before. If you don’t know something it’s because you are learning something new and that is always a good thing. I remember sitting in a physics class, terrified of some new concept that I just couldn’t wrap my head around. Later realizing that new things just take time to settle in. When the brain needs to create new connections between neurons it takes time and more effort. When we learn something new but we manage to connect it to something we already know, not only is it easier to understand but we also remember it better.
Therefore reading and studying can be two different things. When you try to put things you read in context, connect it to things you already know and make some meaning of it then you are studying (are you able to explain it in your own words?). It takes more effort but it pays off. Sometimes building these connections in your head can become messy and it’s easy to lose track. Then it helps to write the essentials down both to organize your thoughts and to be able to revise it later. Some people like creating mind maps.
I think this is the reason for the results of research that was done on writing notes in class on paper vs. on your laptop. It takes longer to write on paper meaning you can write less and have to analyze what you hear to pick the important keywords and therefore you remember it better. I’m not saying you should always write on paper but it might help to use the same style when writing notes on your laptop.
Sometimes when I am tired in class I tend to write a lot brainlessly down but then I am actually just postponing the real learning. It also helps to prepare for the class by just screening the subject the day before (don’t worry about understanding everything). This way the learning is spread over longer time and you are not hearing the concepts for the first time (Schema Activation). I really wish I did this all the time haha but like I said many things affect how I study and sometimes I simply don’t have the time.
Having seen similar things before therefore helps but seeing it again soon also helps (Forgetting curve). If I don’t have assignments regularly that require me to revise the material I need to do it myself so I don’t forget what I’ve learned straight away.
There are many things that affect my motivation towards studying. The simplest ones that everyone knows about but still can be so hard to take care of (including myself) is sleeping, eating, exercising, drinking water and having fresh air. I personally need 8 hours of sleep minimum and half an hour can make drastic changes as well as what time of the day I have my 8 hours. I also need to be interested in what I’m doing, it gives me a drive towards my goals (grit).
Hulda Lilja Hannesdóttir