By Kelly Hughes, Parliament Tutors & Hughes Tutoring 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 brain! 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 brains! 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.