Developing good study skills is critically
important. You spend so much of childhood
learning stuff, and being tested and quizzed and
evaluated on what you've learned. Because of this,
one of the most important subjects in education
should be how to study, but it’s rarely taught.
How well you study can make a huge difference in
your success, so it’s worth spending a little time
getting the principles right. Enjoy Studying!
Make room, mentally and physically, for studying. Usually you’re
studying for something specific, such as an exam. This can seem
daunting, like a mountain to climb. If this sounds familiar, take a deep
breath and pause for a moment before you start.
Think of how you make yourself comfortable when you do
something you really enjoy, like watching a favorite television
program. How do you settle in for the show? Do you sprawl or curl
up? Do you have favorite relaxing clothes? Do you choose a
particular drink or something to nibble? Borrow all these favorite
things to make your studying a better experience. If you’re in a good
space physically, you can improve your mental space.
Create your own personal
work zone. It doesn’t have
to look like a work-space
that’s what many students
find off-putting. Building on
what you did in the
previous paragraph, make
the place your own and
somewhere you enjoy.
Find the right pace for your work. Sprinters work hard and fast in
a burst of energy while marathon runners spread the load and
build slowly towards the climax. There’s no right or wrong way to
pace your studying, except what works for you. Notice the way
you like to work, and adjust your pace accordingly. (Just
remember, if you study at a slow pace, you'll need to set aside
more time for the task.)
Whether you have bags of time or a brief study period, remember
that breaks are just as important as active study (10 minutes off
for every 30 minutes of study works for many people), and use
those breaks to reward yourself with a small treat.
It helps to know how your memory
works. Here is the key to memory: in any
sequence, people remember the first and
last things best. Whatever you try to
remember, you’ll find yourself recalling
the beginning and the end, with less
clear memories of the middle. You can’t
change this — it’s wired in, it's how our
brains work — so don’t fight it.
Instead, use this fact to your advantage
by organizing your study so the most
important bits are at the beginning and
end of your sessions.
It’s always good to have a plan. However big or complex your task may
look at first sight, with a feasible plan you can always find a way to
When studying, break your biggest goal into smaller chunks or tasks. It’s
best if each of these chunks consists of a single topic. Often, you’ll
discover one or two key elements that stand out and get fixed in your
mind. You can then use those as building blocks.
Classic tricks used by memory professionals include ‘the house of
memory’ where you place everything you want to remember in unique
locations in the house. It’s also useful to use humor — play with your
key-words and make them funny or outrageous. You’ll be surprised at
how much easier they are to memorize.
A mind map is rough diagram that you can make to visually outline
information. You can create a mind map by starting with the primary word or
phrase of a topic in the center, with related, lesser categories branching out
from it. Subcategories of these are on smaller branches, still. Your
categories can consist of anything you think is important; they can be
important terms, ideas, or tasks to complete — whatever you need to help
you study or organize the information.
Mind maps are easy to master if you don’t use them already, and you’ll
discover they help you remember masses of information much more
efficiently than conventional lists. If you're not satisfied with your current
note-taking skills, try building a mind map during your next class or lecture
and see if you find it more helpful.