Everyone wants to do well in school, and it’s something to be proud of. You don’t hear your friends walking around school bragging to everyone about how they got a goose egg on a test, so why should you? On the other hand, when a friend gets an A on something, you won’t hear the end of it! If you want to be that person who proudly brags about their grades to their friends and family, then you have to put the time and effort into studying!
Some people need to study harder than others, and everyone studies differently, so don’t get upset if you don’t do well after you study hard. It takes time, patience, and practice to find a study method that best works for you. The key is to always ask questions and never give up!
Choose Your Preferred Learning Style
Before you start studying your brains out, it’s a good idea to figure out which type of learning style that helps you learn the best. There are three different learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. If you’re a visual learner, seeing diagrams and pictures can help you learn. Auditory learners remember best when they hear something. They should listen to lecture recordings. Kinesthetic learners, or physical learners, are best with hands on approaches, such as when a person explains key ideas aloud while moving around. Experiment with these different learning styles to see which type of learning style that works best for you!
Ask More Questions
If you have any questions, then ask them! Pretty simple, huh? Ask your friends, parents, or your teachers if you are confused with something. If you are a shy person and prefer to keep quiet during lectures, then approach your teacher after class. If you don’t have time, then ask them for their email. Most teachers want to see their students succeed (especially the respectful ones), so don’t be afraid to ask a silly question. You never know who else might be wondering the same thing.
It’s a lot easier getting a straightforward answer from your teacher than having to google a question and spending more time trying to find the right answer then getting distracted on google (especially when you see a cute kitten or a new game that is coming out).
Read the Material
No matter what the subject is, whether it’s math, science, english, or history, you need to take the time to read the material before going to class! I found that most students who read the material every night did a lot better than students who either read a little bit or didn’t read the material at all. I know that a lot of students hate to read, but it’s a NECESSITY when it comes to doing well in school! Reading is fundamental!
The best time to read is just before going to bed or taking a nap. You might get nightmares about doing homework, but you will retain more information than reading just after getting back from school. You should also take notes about what you’ve read as well. It’s easier to read and take notes on a few pages each night than having to cram it all at once right before a test!
Take & Rewrite Notes
You should be taking notes both in and out of the classroom. They should be clear, legible, and organized! You should include titles, highlight or underline names and definitions, and include a summary of each section and chapter. That doesn’t mean copying the summary from the book, and don’t leave out any important information that is highlighted in the text books. I shouldn’t see hieroglyphics, chicken scratch, or names of either significant others or drawings of your cats in your notes. If it’s easier to type up your notes on a laptop, then use a laptop. Ask your teacher if they allow laptops.
It can be difficult taking notes during a lecture, especially when you have a professor that just drank a few energy drinks, but try your best. Go back to your dorm or home and rewrite your notes if you have to. The more you rewrite your notes, the more you memorize! It’s tedious, hurts your hands, and it can destroy your social life, but you are in school to learn! You are not there to party!
Answer Practice Questions
If your book has practice questions either at the end of each chapter or at the end of the book, then do your best to answer these questions after you have read the material. This is an excellent way to apply what you have learned! It’s also another way to memorize the material. If you want to write down both the questions and answers in a notebook, laptop, or both, then I strongly encourage you to do so. If you have a memory like a super computer, then you don’t have to write everything down, but it is still a good idea to write down in case you have to refer back to the questions in the book.
Prepare for Exams
Some teachers test their students differently. Some like to use multiple choice, true or false, or fill in the blank questions on tests. Some only like to use open ended exams, whereas others favor a combination. Some allow students to use open books, whereas others allow you to use either a cheat sheet or a formula sheet. Whichever methods they use, ask them to clarify how they will format the exam, what will be on it, when will it be, and what the time frame of the material is. Is it cumulative? Is the exam only covering the last three weeks or two?
Study early, study often, and dust off your old notes
- If you have a syllabus that tells you when the exams are, then you should have an idea when to start focusing on studying for that exam. You should also pay attention in class to see if the exam dates have been changed.
- Revise (rewrite if needed) and fact check your notes after each lecture, so you have a clear and complete understanding of the material.
- Don’t cram the night before. Not studying for weeks then trying to memorize everything in one night is a lot worse than studying throughout the year, because you’re taking in so much information at once that it’s impossible to memorize everything. You’ll hardly retain anything when you are both tired and stressed out.
- Never throw out your old notes! You might need them later, especially if you have a cumulative exam. I’ve seen a few students that were kicking themselves in the arse for throwing out their old material because they thought they weren’t going to need it.
Organize your time and materials
- Get a planner, and use it to organize your time. Write down the dates of quizzes, exams, homework assignments, and due dates. Add time slots to study for exams or times when you can’t study due to sports or other activities.
- Study for at least 20 minutes each day. Twenty minutes is enough time to reread the material or rewrite lecture notes.
- Don’t study longer than an hour without taking a break. If you are getting bored, then take a break. If your eyes, hands, or back hurts from studying, then get up and take a walk. There’s nothing wrong with taking a breather.
- Study when you are most comfortable and focused. Are you more alert in the morning or evening? When and where can you find the quietest time to study (unless you like a little noise)?
- Don’t study when you’re tired. It’s better to get a good night’s sleep after studying than trying to stay up well after midnight. You won’t remember as much, and you will remember even less from class the next day because you’re too tired to care about why gravity sucks.
- Gather everything from your class. Make sure you have a complete set of notes, handouts, graded homework, and old quizzes. It’s not funny when you are missing the most important section that will be on the test.
- If you’ve missed lectures, then catch up with anything that you have missed. Borrow notes from your friends, and ask your teacher for any handouts that you have missed. Teachers usually have a few extra copies.
Rewrite your notes
- Rewriting your notes helps you to remember them. Read and think carefully and critically about the contents of the textbook and why it’s important.
- When you finish studying a section of notes, ask yourself questions relating to the material to see if you remembered what you have just read. If it’s easier for you to summarize the section by talking to someone else, then ask someone to spare a few minutes of their time to help you memorize the material.
Join a Study Group
Some people study better on their own, while others remember more when they study in groups. If you prefer to study in a group and have at least some sort of social life, then ask around to see who wants to join you. However, you should only ask those who are serious about studying. It’s hard to remember the material when the only thing you can remember is how stupid your buddy was acting while in the group.
If you’re not sure about what to do while you’re in a group, then consider these options: you can read chapters out loud, compare notes, quiz each other using note cards, and ask questions that are in the book. The more fun you have, the more likely you are to remember what you have learned.
Let’s Hear From You!
Which method is your preferred learning style (visual, auditory, or kinesthetic)? Do you consider yourself to learn better using one, two, or all three methods? Do you think you have a weakness? What do you think is the most important study tip or habit? How do you like to study? Would you like to add a study tip?
I consider myself to be a visual learner. It’s easier for me to learn by looking at my notes, reading a book, seeing the solution to a math problem, and by looking at a graph, diagram, picture, or animation. For me, looking at something makes it easier to remember, and it’s easier for me to make sense of everything. It’s also easier for me to learn by taking a hands on approach (kinesthetic) to some things such as using tools and operating machinery. For example, don’t tell me how to drive, just show me how to drive, and let me figure it out myself by getting behind the wheel!
On the other hand, I’m not a good auditory learner, but that doesn’t mean I’m a bad listener! You can explain how to do something until you’re blue in the face, but until you show me how to do something, I’m going to be as confused as a fart in a fan factory. And that, my fellow EduCons, is why I prefer to use email!