How a person studies is as individual and unique as how they speak, walk and think. What works for one individual may not work for another, so asking a friend what they do to prepare for a test may be a way of gathering information, but that information should be just part of what goes into the student’s individual study plan. Learning how to study effectively begins with learning oneself and one’s own personality. Developing a study technique that works for a particular student is definitely a very personal endeavor because there is no one-size-fits-all way to study.
Even though there is no study style that will work for everyone, there are some tips that can help as a student is trying to find how to study effectively:
• Define your personal style. Some students are all about organization. They thrive in a world of planners and schedules and checklists. Others are more laidback. They can read for hours, making notes in the margins, highlighting passages they think are important, dog-earing pages they need to remember. Both of these styles may work for these particular students. They may just need a bit of tweaking to make them more effective. The pace that worked in high school will probably need to be picked up to work in college.
• What is your goal? What does the student want to achieve by studying? Is it a great grade or to learn as much as possible about the subject or both? Knowing what they are trying to achieve can help with prioritizing activities and time. It’s hard for the student to know if any progress is being made if they don’t know their goals.
• Get organized. Even if a student is laidback, getting organized is essential to stay on track with studying. It doesn’t have to be folders and planners and sticky noted to death, but some basic organization of study materials and lecture notes as the course proceeds will help tremendously when the exam rolls around.
• Read in chunks. Set a time to read the material and do not try and read it all at once. Some students can do this, but most cannot. It is easier to absorb and digest material if it is read in small amounts and understood and then some more is read until all of the material is read and understood.
• Keep up course work. Do the course homework and reading as the course moves along. It is much, much easier to do the reading for the course as the course is progressing, preferably before class, than it is to try and cram it all in just before the exam. It is also helps to understand the lecture and lecture notes if the reading is accomplished before the lecture because they will reinforce each other and help the student retain the information.
• Make time for other activities. Students should not be all about studying. They should have a social life and physical activities as well. It is important that students eat well and maintain a healthy lifestyle as well as learn how to study effectively.
Students can learn how to study effectively by developing a study technique that fits their particular personality and style. It is important that a student is comfortable with a method of studying so they will stay focused and relaxed. School can be challenging, but if a student can find ways to help meet these challenges, learning becomes fun and rewarding.