Ace Your Classes: Study More Effectively
The key to your college success is to study effectively. Many students make the mistake of thinking that studying consists of writing down every word of lectures and then reading them over and over. Sadly, this is the least effective method. Much of what is said during lectures can be condensed into the important points. In addition, simply reading over notes seldom works. When you study in this manner, your brain goes in to “automatic mode” and you are simply seeing it with your eyes while your brain wanders to other topics. When you make a conscious effort to study effectively, you will learn much more in far less time.
There are many effective ways of taking notes, one of which is the T-method. In this method, draw a large T shape on your paper, with the vertical stem being closer to the left margin. When taking notes, write the general topic at the top, along with the date of the lecture. List main ideas along the left column, and all supporting details for that idea on the right. Later, when you study, you can cover either column and quiz yourself using the details of the other. This forces your brain to process what you are learning much more so than simply by reading. Also, change ink color regularly during note taking and avoid using blue or black ink. Studies have proven that you will retain 50%-80% more information with colored notes without needing to read it again.
Your textbooks are not simply expensive doorstops. It is vital that you do the reading that accompanies each lecture. Break reading down in to chapters or other small units that will allow you to get the content without zoning out. Instead of highlighting important points in your book, add them to your notes so your brain will process the information.
Since studying is one of the key determiners in your success, you should treat it as such. Determine how much time you need to study each week. Look at your overall schedule to see when you have free time. Then, make a date with yourself to study and stick to that promise. It is more productive to study for smaller amounts of time more often than to have one marathon session.
Make sure you have a comfortable, well-lit location in which to study. Eliminate all distractions and turn off your cell phone. When you are studying, all of your attention needs to be focused on the task at hand. Resist the urge to get sidetracked and, if needed, promise yourself a reward after you complete your studying obligations. Knowing that you have a date with friends waiting will give you something to look forward to and will help you to stay on track much easier. If you plan on having a group study session, make sure everyone is comfortable and that drinks and snacks are handy to help keep everyone at peak mental performance.