You’ve heard the principle that no two people are perfectly alike. Our ways of learning and strategies for studying are no exception. At least once, you might have experienced studying for an exam for weeks and still get scores that fall short of your expectations. Before blaming yourself, it’s useful to know whether you really studied the subject the right way.
Ask yourself these questions and find out what kind of learning strategy can help you the most:
Do you remember and understand more concepts and ideas by drawing or looking at pictures? Welcome, then, to the realm of visual learners. You most often draw diagrams around your notepad, pay attention to your teacher’s every stroke on the chalkboard, or relish the images and text projected from a powerpoint presentation.
Ace your lessons by complementing online and offline sources of pictures, diagrams or videos for your studies For sharper memorization, jot down keywords and post-its where you can usually see them. Don’t only write things down, sum them up with meaningful diagrams. Make lists, highlight and underline keywords, and create mind-maps for more complex ideas. In speeches or lectures, pay close attention to the speaker, and take pictures or film the session (if it is allowed).
Do you find listening and speaking in discussions appealing? Though everyone is most certainly an auditory learner like you in one way or another, you love reading to yourself out loud, look forward to listening to and giving oral reports, and find group studies instructive.
Focus on instructional methods like audiobooks, recorded tutorials and lectures or even musical interpretations and videos that let you hear your lessons repeatedly.
Do you always see to it that you get to try out and touch the material you’re studying? Kinesthetic learners are often excited by hands-on sessions, role-playing and participative demos. They get bored during long periods of sitting and see to it that they’re always on the move, relating the most to adventure books and highly inclined to sports. Kinesthetic learners learn best the more they experience the idea. Fill your study methods with lab exercises, tours and field trips, games, role-playing and group activities. For literary pieces, watch emotional dramatizations, or for scientific concepts, go ahead and be creative in your experiments.
Do you see patterns and like analyzing trends and connections? You’re a logical learner, so you get thrilled with working on puzzles, solving problems, and answering abstract “what-if” questions. You most often look for how relationships between concepts and reasoning are central to you. When studying, summarizing and analytical flowcharts and diagrams can help you the most by letting you classify information, categorize them, and plot out relationships.
Do you like being around people and find learning the most in conversations? If you find sharing personal experiences, seeking out or giving advice, and relating and exchanging information with groups or classes interesting, you’re a social learner and you’d find debates, open group discussions useful to you. If you’re the opposite who likes to study alone and figure problems out independently, you’re more of a solitary learner. Everyone should be a good balance of both to adjust flexibly to any learning demand.
When you know how to best handle information, you study more efficiently. Go ahead and make the lesson personal to you, because the more you find it relevant, the more you’d take it with you wherever you go—even long after the exam.
Unfortunately, we only retain so much through reading. In learning how to study effectively, increasing your ability to retain information is key to improving your grades. In this article, you will find memorization techniques, strategies for learning, concentration techniques, and mind mapping examples. In sum, studying calls for information integration rather than simply storing raw data in your brain. Although we still think of our brain as a hard drive connected to higher processes; it’s nothing like it. Continue reading to find out about the techniques that worked for me to increase my memory power.
1. Pay attention
To register and retain information, you need to pay attention to it. While your senses are capturing information 24h/7; your brain is trying to concentrate and organize specific elements of knowledge. To help this process, avoid all distractions, multitasking, and favour tidy environments. It’s now a good time to clean your room and your desk.
A good concentration technique would be to listen to non-lyrical music, use a ruler or your finger to point as you read through your textbook, and avoid social media as much as possible. You might want to turn them off during study periods.
2. Repetition – Rehearsing
The more natural of all memorization techniques has to do with repetition. Have you ever tried to remember a phone number? How did you do it? Most people will repeat it over-and-over until they remember it automatically. Some will memorize it by manually composing it over-and-over. Repetition is a natural learning strategy.
Moreover, spreading study sessions across your exam preparation increases your chances to go over the same material over-and-over. In addition, it gives your brain more time to connect bits and pieces of the material together. Find other ways to repeat the material by using your personal experience, images, sounds, movies, and so on. Then, copy your notes, paraphrase them, or have a discussion about them with your peers, teachers, or parents. In sum, rehearsing information, repeating it over-and-over is the easiest way how to increase memory power.
3. Organize it
The brain has a natural tendency to organize information. To help this process, use courses syllabus, outlines, keywords, or mind mapping to organize your material. To prepare for essay questions, design outlines to pre-organize your short or long essays. Here, you can find an example of an outline I would use for my academic essays. Verify this with your teachers before writing exams. The following is a mind mapping example.
4. Use mnemonic devices
Mnemonic devices are great memorization techniques. Because our brain prefers organized information to mismatched concepts, using mnemonic devices is a good way how to increase memory power. Simply assemble the first letter of each significant word in a given concept. Then, order the letters to form a meaningful sentence. Remembering a sentence is much easier than a whole concept.
Example: Great Lakes
The names of the Great Lakes are: Superior, Michigan, Erie, Ontario. You can remember the order from west to east with the following:
Super Man Helps Every One.
Using mnemonic devices is also a way how to study effectively when summarizing articles. Use this study technique after each paragraph or module to encompass its whole meaning in one single sentence.
5. Connect it
Mind mapping allows you to visually chart significant concepts. Taken a step further, each unit may be expanded by linking new knowledge to which you already know. Use other classes or personal experience to relate to new notions. Doing it visually through mind mapping will ease learning and reviewing before writing exams. Learn about free mind mapping software available online.
To conclude, stop storing and start integrating information as a way to study effectively.
I hope the tips are helpful! Good Luck!
Whether you are looking to improve your grades, maintain them, or simply want to learn how to study, knowing how to set goals is essential. Let me introduce you to the SMART method of setting your goals and shows you how to reach them.
This method was originally used by management professionals to set-up goals, monitor and evaluate success. SMART is an acronym for Specific goals, Measurable results, Attainable goals, Realistic goals, Time-bound. Let’s look at each specific terms and relate them to learning how to study:
S – Specific
When you plan for success, setting up attainable goals will give you a sense of direction. Knowing specifically what you want to achieve makes it easier to focus your mind and energy on the necessary steps to reach your goals. For example, instead of “I want to improve my grades.” you might say: “I want to increase my English average by 5% by the next term.” Yes, being specific demands to put numbers on the table.
M – Measurable
Putting numbers down also allows you to measure your progress. When planning for success, what are you really planning for? What would be – for you – the most obvious indicator of success? As you are learning how to study, you will also learn how to quantify your success. Although understanding more is a virtuous ideal; it’s also far from being observable! Setting measurable goals is done by setting up a range of improvement (e.g. 2-5%) or a specific target grade like 85%!
A – Attainable
Whether you are aiming for a target grade or simply want to improve your grades by an average of 2-5%, both numbers must feel attainable. Knowing that you are capable of reaching your goal is motivating. You might want to be honest with yourself about this one. Although we all want to achieve the highest grades; not all of us can score 95% in physics! First, look at your current grades, then set your goals in line with your real abilities.
R – Realistic
Even if you have the potential to score 95% in physics; those 3 weeks before exams might not do it. In other words, attainable goals still have to be realistic. Other factors such as time and commitments might come in the way of your goals. Setting-up goals, sometimes, demands to revisit your priorities to adjust them to your new plan.
T – Time-Bound
Just like school years have beginnings and ends, improving your grades is a process that starts and ends with your success. Break down your improvement in steps, like climbing up a ladder. Use school terms or semesters to evaluate how much your grades have increased. In other words, part of setting-up goals is to break them down into smaller – more attainable/realistic – ones you will achieve step-by-step. An increase of 2% per term per subject would be a great example of breaking down your improvement by term and then by subject.
In sum, we work better and achieve more when we plan for success. Knowing specifically what you want to achieve, making sure it’s attainable and realistic, knowing how to measure your success, and structuring your improvement over time are key factors of success. Don’t forget to reward yourself along the way!
Let me know if these tips were helpful, or if you would add anything!
Learn how to motivate yourself to study and how to find balance in your life