Knowing how to study also means knowing how to be a good student. You can’t expect to get an A if you just listen to lectures and study the night before an exam. Studying isn’t just about completing the study guide or reading bolded words in your textbook. You also have to be able to know how to read well, take good notes in and outside of class, and adapt your learning style to what is needed to succeed. Here are some tips for how to study effectively.
1. Get in the right mindset
Before you even get to class, open up your book and look at some of today’s lesson, glance at your notes from the previous class, and start thinking about the course. Just five or ten minutes of looking at the previous and upcoming material will help get you in the right mindset to effectively learn and be interested in what the professor is going to say. If you get to class early, ask your classmates around where you sit if they did the homework and what they thought of it. Get ready for learning.
When you need to study outside of class, do the same thing for 10 or so minutes to prepare your brain. Don’t just dive into it because the first few things problems you do or things you read aren’t as likely to have a lasting impact on your memory. Once you are ready to learn, then put your mind into focus and get into the hard to understand concepts.
2. Learn how to take good notes
To go along with this, knowing how to take good notes in and outside of class is essential. When you are in class, don’t try and write down everything the instructor says, and instead write down bullet points of important tidbits from the lecture and things you find interesting. Write these notes in your own words instead of copying them word for word from the book or instructor. In order to understand and remember important coursework, you need to be able to relate the lesson to your own thinking and intelligibly relay back that information.
When you are studying at home, use a highlighter to highlight important and interesting sections. Annotate in your physical book, and use an online annotation tool if you are reading something digitally. If you have to, have a notebook on hand to write down a concept or passage that sticks out – just be sure to put the page number down next to it so you can go back to it if needed.
3. Reading comprehension is important
Note-taking and annotating is one important part of reading comprehension, but you also need to learn how to be a good reader. This means that you can’t just read the words on the page without understanding what the words are actually saying as a part and as a whole of a larger concept.
When reading anything, make sure that you understand it. Reread passages when you zone out or don’t know what it’s saying, annotated in the side of your book to mark important passages, go back and look over what you read before to refresh your memory and keep it in your mind.
4. Eliminate distractions
When studying, make sure that you eliminate all distractions. A good technique can be to put on noise canceling headphones and listen to music that doesn’t have any words – something to provide good background noise. Also, make sure that you are in a place that doesn’t have a lot going on so your eyes can stay focused on the material. Finally, do whatever you can do to eliminate digital distractions, which means no social media, no browsing YouTube, etc. There are many browser extensions for free online that can help keep you from accessing these websites and/or limit your time on them.
5. Use a memory retention tool
Memory retention tools can help too. Peterson’s offers a very successful program called the Dean Vaughn Memory Retention Tool for basically any subject. This program has been proven to enhance your own brain’s ability to remember terms and concepts. Learning how to effectively remember important course material is essential to your success as a student.