Carrying out this process efficiently will help you maximize your time and effort, and help you retain information for longer – it won’t matter if you are receiving formal, informal, or extracurricular education and training.
One way in which we can accomplish all this is by studying – this means paying close attention to a specific topic, phenomenon, or event over time. Carrying out this process efficiently will help you maximize your time and effort, and help you retain information for longer – it won’t matter if you are receiving formal, informal, or extracurricular education and training. Keep reading and keep handy these few tips, so you can study like a pro!
1. Understand the material rather than trying to memorize it
There is no point in repeating information without really understanding what it is that information is conveying. As a good practice exercise, break up the information into bite-size chunks and concentrate on understanding each of the individual parts. Do not hesitate to use a dictionary, a Google search, or even to ask a classmate or colleague. Once you have understood the concept, practice explaining it out loud to yourself or to a friend. This way, you will be aware of gaps in your understanding. Repeat this for each chunk of information and then try it out with more and more chunks each time. Before you know it, you will have a mastery understanding of all of what you need to know – so good you could teach it!
2. Find the right environment and time to study
Some people find it easier to focus in their bedrooms, others need to be in complete silence inside a library, and another group might prefer the buzz of a coffee shop. Likewise, some people are early birds and others might be night owls. You may think you know your preference but try studying in different settings and times of the day until you find the combination that makes you feel the most comfortable. Remember, there is no right or wrong in this, only what suits you best.
3. Keep an agenda
Time moves fast. Thus, to have a higher level of control over how your day looks and to be as efficient as possible, it is a good idea to keep a schedule that allows you to have an overview of the activities you have or want to do throughout the day. Whether you use a notebook, a study app, or note-taking space on your phone, keeping an agenda will help you set a realistic timetable to divide your study sessions so you don’t end up burned out. The agenda can also be used in future study sessions to reference what you’ve already learned.
4. Take breaks!
It is important to relax your eyes and your mind between study sessions, so you allow yourself to have some time to renew your concentration and creativity, as well as letting your brain process and understand what you studied. To do this, try to study in 25-minutes long sessions and then take a 5- to 10-minute break during which you can, for example: take a short walk, eat a snack, meditate, or head over to StudentLAB to decide which course you will take next or post something interesting on your wall! The time estimate presented above is only a suggestion so make sure to test what works best for you.
5. Be selective with your notes
Instead of writing down absolutely everything the professor says, focus on trying to understand the information and writing down keywords or important ideas or sentences. Taking notes allows you to keep track of the explained topics, and you will be able to review the material later when studying. Some more visual-minded learners also find that alternative or non-traditional note-taking strategies, such as mind-mapping (linking high frequency words from each lecture) or visual notetaking (drawing the highlights of a lecture while it is underway) can be even more useful than simply jotting down high-level points. Practice each until you find what works best for you.
Instead of writing down absolutely everything the professor says, focus on trying to understand the information and writing down keywords or important ideas or sentences.
6. Create a study group:
Similar to posing questions to your fellow students or colleagues in order to understand the material, creating study groups is an excellent way to discuss what you are studying, propose new perspectives and further expand your knowledge in general. Study groups allow for active speaking and listening, providing a chance for all team members to be both teachers and students simultaneously. For tips on how to maintain a great study group dynamic, make sure to check out our Tips for Maintaining a Great Study Group Dynamic.
Finally, remember that studying is a unique process for each individual student. Therefore, don’t be afraid to try out these tips and adjust them with what you feel works for you – and only you – until you master the art of studying like a pro.
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