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College can become overwhelming for new students. The expectations are higher than they were in high school and if you haven’t brought some good study habits along with you, you might find yourself struggling.
Here are some studying tips for those looking to ace this semester:
1) Take good notes
The first thing you’ll need when you sit down to study is good class notes. If you don’t know how to take good notes yet, here are some tips:
- Copy down everything the teacher writes on the board. Not everything they say may be essential, but if they go to the trouble to write it down, you can bet it’s important
- Pay attention to cues such as “This is important…” or “Remember this…” or if they raise their voice and speak more slowly. These usually signal that the information is crucial
- Write down all dates and names of people and places that are mentioned
- See if you can summarize the main idea of that day’s lecture in your own words at the end of class
It may be tempting to do something totally non-academic right after class like hang out with friends or hit the gym. But the first half an hour after a class is the ideal time for you to assimilate what you’ve just learned. Right after class, you should find a quiet spot like the library or your room and sit down and go over your notes. This will help you remember what you learned and increase your retention.
3) Continuously review your notes
Besides reviewing your notes right after class, continuously reviewing your notes from day one to the present is an effective way to increase your retention and enhance your understanding of course material. The more often you review, the easier it will be for you to study for big exams. This method of studying makes cram sessions unnecessary. And in any case, cram sessions or last-minute studying may help you pass a test, but does nothing to increase your long-term retention of information.
4) Read your notes out loud
Many people who hear something being spoken stand a better chance at remembering it than if they just read it. You can do this yourself with your notes. Either read them out loud or record yourself reading them and play them back to yourself while studying. This can help reinforce the information in your memory.
5) Use flashcards
Flashcards are great for providing quick visual cues to help you recall information. The best thing about flashcards is that you can mix up the order so you’re not always looking at the information in the same chronological order. If you’re able to remember things out of context, you stand a greater chance at being able to recall them quickly and accurately on a test.
6) Teach the subject to another person
Studies show that you can increase your retention to up to 90% by teaching a subject to someone else. You’ll have to find a friend or roommate whose game for this, but it can be helpful to teach the subject to a third party, hopefully someone who isn’t in your class. As you go through the material with them, you can quiz them and they can also ask you questions on the material that you might not have considered before. This exercise takes you from student to master of the subject. It forces you to be skilled at explaining all aspects of it and changes your psychological relationship to the subject. You’re no longer a student struggling to understand. Instead, you’re the teacher passing on your knowledge to another.
7) Study in a group
Attending study groups is a great way to get different perspectives on a subject that you hadn’t thought of yourself. It’s common for debates to form naturally during study groups and participating in one can help you develop an airtight argument for a future paper or essay by debating the pros and cons with your classmates.
Use these methods to increase your retention and your understanding of class lessons.