Efficiency in Studying
Many students come into college with less than efficient and effective study
skills. They think that college work is similar to what they've done in high school: that
the same study habits used in high school will work in college. Soon they find out this is
not the case. In most four-year colleges and universities many of the basic required
classes have 100 or more students in them so there isn't much of a chance of contact with
the instructor. This means that the student is "up the creek without a paddle" and she or
he has to make due with the study skills that are already there. In many cases, it is by this
time that the new student becomes overwhelmed and settles for cramming before an
exam in hopes that this habit will be enough to pull him through, or dropping out.
There is an efficient and effective way of studying that affords you the ability to
learn the subject and gives you free time. It is simple and makes use of the brain's natural
process of making associations. This is how you do this technique:
Look at the chapter heading and ask and write down the answers to questions such
as these about it: What do I know about the subject? What does the chapter
heading mean? What do I and what don't I understand about the chapter? What
could be the main idea of the chapter?
Look at the section headings and ask and write down questions such as these:
What does this section have to do with the chapter heading? What does this
section mean in reference to the chapter heading and the subject? What is this
section heading's relationship to the main idea?
Look at all of the charts, graphs, pictures, etc. and ask questions such as these
about each one: What does this have to do with the section and the chapter? What
does it mean?
Then skim, scan, and read one section at a time. You don't try to read the whole
chapter in the first sitting. It's best not to do so. There is a way to set up your
study schedule. Let's say that you have 180 pages to study before the quiz and the
quiz is 5 weeks away. Instead of attempting to study 180 pages in a few days or to
try to go over it once or twice a week, break the material down into smaller
chunks and work with those smaller chunks. Divide it up like this: 180 divided by
5 equals 36. In other words, all that you need to study is 36 pages per week. Now
if you study 5 days a week that means that all you'll need to study is 7 pages per
day! Now, how difficult could it be to really study 7 pages per day? Not very, for
even the average college student.
The technique doesn't stop here. Each day this is the program that you'll follow:
Do a, b, c, and d (above) and study the 1st 7 pages doing a recall as you're going
along on the first day. When you've completed those 7 pages, review the recall
and make any other notes you need.
Review the 1st day's recall. Study the next 7 pages (d above) doing a recall as
you're going through. When you've completed those 7 pages, review the previous
two recalls and make any other notes that you may need.
Review the previous two recalls. Study the next 7 pages (d above) doing a recall as you're
going through. When you've completed those 7 pages, review all three recalls and make
any other notes that you may need
Review the first three recalls. Study the next 7 pages (d above) doing a recall as
you're going through. When you've completed those 7 pages, review all four
recalls and make any other notes that you may need.
Review the previous four recalls. Study the next 7 pages (d above) doing a recall
as you're going through. When you've completed those 7 pages, review all of the
recalls and make any other notes that you may need. Finally, read through all 35
pages to get the total organization of the author and his flow of ideas. Then make
any other notes that you may need.
Relax and enjoy yourself. You can take about a half hour to an hour if desired to
review your recalls.
Review your recalls and make note of any ideas that come to mind about the
Furthermore, when you're studying, never study for more than an hour without a
break. In fact, study from 40 to 50 minutes and take a ten minute break. If you're studying
one subject, after the break do some light reading for about one-half hour then go back to
study the material for another 40 to 50 minutes. If you're studying more than one subject,
after the ten minute break, go to other material for 40 to 50 minutes. This will allow the
brain to absorb the material and will also assist your concentration.
The vast majority of students become overwhelmed at the thought of having to
study, for example, 180 pages. They have no idea that there's a much easier way to do
things than to attempt all of the material at once. They don't think of breaking it down
into small, more manageable chunks and work with the small chunks. This is one of the
main reasons that cramming is so often used. By breaking the material down into smaller
chunks, you are actually learning the material. Cramming doesn't help you to learn
anything and it isn't studying --- no matter what grade you get. The ultimate outcome of
your education is the practical application of what you're learning. If the study technique
that you're using doesn't help you to make associations, help you to learn the material and
to practically apply the studied material, it isn't working. Change it.
Another nice outcome of this study method is that it'll help you to improve your
memory. Many students feel that they don't have a good memory and the "study"
methods they use reinforce this idea. By studying smaller, more manageable chunks it's
easier and more relaxing and gives the brain more time to absorb and learn the material.
But the first step to having a good memory is to give yourself credit for having a good
memory. Part of having a good memory has to do with making associations. The more
associations you make the easier it is to remember things. It's much easier to remember
things that are associated because you have more cues to trigger your memory. Then
when you go in to take a test you'll notice all of the other students trying to review a
half-dozen or so highlighted chapters in the text and pages of class notes. What you'll be
reviewing is several pages of recalls. It'll be easier to review the recalls and your studying
will be a lot simpler and easier. And these recalls will be the triggers for your memory.
You'll also have a better command of the material and make higher grades.