By Kelly Hughes,
Parliament Tutors &

There is one prevailing strategy for succeeding in all aspects of school and
test-taking: organization!
It’s incredible the things you are able to accomplish if you organize, and you
will be surprised by how much less time it takes you to reach your academic
goals! Organizing your studies maximizes results in shorter time-frames and
opens up more freedom to explore your other interests.

Each person has a different method for best retaining information – whether it be
listening to lectures, reading textbooks, or writing notes. You need to discover
which technique is best for you, but make sure you don’t forget about the other
two! All are key to understanding concepts, so hone in on your strongest method,
take it to the maximum, and use the other methods to maintain a well-balanced
Here are some habits to take up to make your studying really count!

1. Make Lists!
When you are able to visualize what you need to do, you will get it done! This
is especially helpful with that long-term item you keep putting off . . .
Looking at your list and still seeing that task that has not yet been crossed
off will start to bother you, and make you feel like you have to get it done!
2. Don’t cram!
Some people say they are successful with cramming and they may be right when it comes
to the score on their test. However, cramming only allows the information into
your short-term memory; in a short period of time, all of your cramming will
have gone to waste, for you will have forgotten it. It is best to study a little
bit each night – reviewing what you have done the days prior. When the night
before the test hits, you will just have to look over your notes a few more
times to make sure your memory is fired-up. No more all-nighters and frazzled
3. Understand the more general, basic concepts before you try to conquer the
detailed, more complex ones! Most
concepts, like in math, build upon what you have learned before. It seems simple
enough that you won’t understand how to solve the equation x + 2 = 10 until you
know what 10 minus two equals. Use this idea in all of your studies – be
confident with the basic ideas first.
4. Don’t just memorize – learn! Similar
to the concept of not cramming in #2 above, learning rather than memorizing is
key not only to testing, but to understanding ideas as a whole. Memorizing is
something that can be done quickly, but that you will forget quickly. Learning
is something that takes a bit more effort, but that will stick with you.
Learning will actually save you time, as you will only have to learn and lock
concepts into your long-term memory one time, rather than re-memorizing them
into your short-term memory multiple times.
5. Decide whether you work best by using computers or by hand-writing. Some
of us prefer to do everything electronically – pay bills, read, communicate,
etc. However, there are others that prefer to do those things by hand. Figure
out what method of studying works best for you; you may find that a combination
of the two is ideal. Taking/writing notes by hand is a great way to engage your
brain, but later typing them up on your computer will give you another review of
the notes, and possibly organize them better for your studying. Whether you
decide to use electronics, tangible paper, or a combination, make sure that you
stay organized.

Kelly Hughes is a tutor with Hughes Tutoring, a Montana Tutoring company.
Kelly is also a consultant with Parliament Tutors, a Denver

If  you truly adapt these habits, and formulate study schedules and plans specific
to your goals,

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