Inventive Study Habits

19 Oct

One of my responsibilities at work is to teach a study skills session at the beginning of each quarter. We found that some of the adult students needed a refresher because they have spent the last few years out of the classroom and their study habits had become rusty.

Students brushing up on their study habits.

I am always looking for ways to improve this seminar, so I approach students who attended to get their feedback. Here are some of the things that I have been told were the most effective.

Study in different locations– This is one of the most enthusiastic responses I receive from students who attend the workshop. Apparently I’m not the only one that found this effective. Reviewing the same material over and over in the same spot just makes it all run together. Try changing things up next time you are preparing for a big exam. Spend some time studying at home if it’s quiet, then the library, and then take a trip to your favorite coffee shop. Location doesn’t matter, as long as you find a few places where you can focus.

Study the entire quarter instead of cramming– This seems like common sense but few people approach their studies this way. Instead of being stressed out and relearning material right before an exam, simply review notes and course material throughout the duration of the class. By the time the exam rolls around, you will have a firm grasp of the material and there will be no need to stay up all night frantically trying to memorize everything. A few of my students took this advice and their improvement was astounding. It just takes some discipline and it made their lives much less complicated by finals week.

This student should have started studying a LONG time ago.

Become an active reader– Some students struggle on quizzes and exams because of their reading style. They take the time to read the required chapters and then toss the book aside. When the time comes to retain this information, nothing is there. One simple way around this is to always have a highlighter in your hand as you read. Mark up key concepts. This will make reviewing so much easier down the road. I also suggest jotting down questions in the margins as you read. This way you will have them right in front of you next time you have the opportunity to ask questions in class. And don’t worry about reducing the resale value of the book. Some of my students use this as an excuse, but it’s not worth the extra $2.50 to get a “C” when you easily could earn an “A.”

Find your motivation– Sometimes it’s hard to get yourself up for a long night with your micro-economics textbook. Find ways to reward yourself in these cases. Get through two or three chapters and watch an episode of The Office. Or call a friend. Or eat a piece of cake. You know yourself better than anyone, so find whatever it is to motivate you to get through something unpleasant.

I could go on all day, but those are a few of the tips that students say have helped them turn a corner from average to the top of their class. What are some of your best study tips? What “outside the box” techniques do you use to help boost your grades?

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2 Responses to “Inventive Study Habits”

  1. gijmaj October 21, 2010 at 2:17 am #

    Nice post. that’s what I needed right now. During last 5 years I only had to read activity reports or short news about upcoming events in the non-governmental sector. So I forgot real meaning of STUDENT and it was a bit difficult to switch on study mode again. I’ll try these tips and will see the results.

    • inventiveeducation October 25, 2010 at 7:36 pm #

      Let me know if you find any of these tips helpful. I only discussed a small percentage of the material we cover in the seminars. If you think it helps I will do a follow-up post with more study tips.

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