Are you frustrated with your academic record so far? Do you wish to make better grades in the future? Maybe you are satisfied with your grades, but you would like to raise the bar a little higher and instead of making straight B’s, start throwing some A’s in the mix. If you have not discovered what type of learner you are, now is the time! Understanding how you process and learn information will help you navigate the study methods that work for you.
Maybe you are a visual learner because you have the ability to synthesize information presented to you through visuals such as charts or graphs. Data is best understood through various visualizations.
Maybe you are an auditory learner because you find that taking notes in class is a distraction. Perhaps you feel that you can remember information being taught if you can maintain your attention and not be distracted. You might be an auditory learner if you find group activities helpful, when you can discuss the material with others.
If you are a reading or writing learner, you might find that taking notes and looking through powerpoint slides helps you recall the information for the test. This is my learning style. I process information as I write it down, so taking notes is absolutely paramount to my success.
Maybe you are a kinesthetic learner, one who has to take a hands on approach to learning. For you, interactive learning is key.
So what do you do after understanding your learning style? Research different study methods that work for your learning style. Need somewhere to start? Here are several study techniques that are inspired by the research of Barbara Oakley, presented in her book, A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel in Math and Science(Even if you Flunked Algebra).
- Use recall. After you read a page in a book, look away from the page and try to recall the main ideas. You can think through them or say them out loud.
- Test yourself. Create a practice test or make some notecards.
- Chunking the material. Group large amounts of information in smaller sections in order to memorize it more effectively.
- Space out your repetition. Don’t spend an excessive amount of time studying just one subject but divide your study time with several.
- Take breaks. You can’t study for five hours straight without a break. Take little breaks along the way! Just like an athlete needs a break from physical exertion, your brain needs a break, too.
- Use simple analogies to explain complex concepts. Try to think of a way to explain the concept to a ten year old. The additional effort you put into explaining it allows you to encode (converting neural memory structures) what you have learned.
- Focus. Turn off your phone for thirty minutes at a time so that you aren’t distracted. If you are constantly distracted during your study time, you will not be effective. During each break, give yourself a small reward.
- DO THE HARD WORK FIRST! While you have the most energy, focus on the harder stuff earlier on in the day.