Study better, not longer!

So much studying to do! Students have so many classes these days; it seems as if there isn’t enough time to study it all. (We’ll cover time management in another post. For now…) How should students study? What are the best tips on HOW to study? Studying deals with more than just reading chapters over and over. It starts IN the class.

1)Take notes. Even if the teacher provides topic outlines, the student should still take notes. Taking notes engages the student with the material. Hopefully, taking notes will help the student understand the material during the class. However, even if it doesn’t do that, taking notes will keep the student’s attention on what is being said, which can sink in later.

2) Review the material right after the class. While it’s easier for a college student to do this (where the classes are often more spaced apart), high school and younger students can do this also. Discuss the material with a classmate as you walk to the next class. Just a few minutes is good enough. Of course, most students prefer talking about ANYTHING else than the class they just came from, but even a quick “what do you think about that topic today?” can help.

3)Space out the study sessions. No cramming! Study a little bit each day. This leads to better retention because the material becomes stored in long-term memory, instead of short-term memory when students cram. Cramming is the reason students frequently forget the material right after the test. In tutoring sessions, I often review the previous week’s material, in addition to the current material. This repetition at intervals strengthens the long-term retention.

4)Learn the general concepts first. Make outlines of the material, or review the outlines the teacher gives. Don’t worry about learning the details until the student understands the bigger concepts. The details are useless if the student doesn’t know what they’re describing. If the subject is Math, understand how to apply the lesson to the real world. If the subject is English or History, understand the era in which the material is happening.

5)Practice/study with others (but only with people who are serious about studying!). If the student is able to talk about the material, the more likely it is that the student KNOWS the material. The best grades my students get are the ones when they’re able to “teach” me the lesson themselves. Talking about the material includes using the words from the lesson, although speaking about it in general can work also. Basically, as long as the student is talking about the material, the better the student understands it.

Studying isn’t the easiest thing to do, and it is different from student to student. However, these tips are a good general starting point for everyone. Let me know if you want more details or need more ideas! Happy studying!

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