Rewrite your notes at home.
When you take notes, focus on recording the information over understanding or neatness. Rewrite your notes as soon after the class as possible, while the material is fresh in your mind so that you can fill in any gaps completely from memory. The process of rewriting your notes is a more active approach to studying by making you actively engage your mind with the information. You can easily zone out if you’re just reading. Writing them makes you think about the information.
- That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to understand or organize your notes at all; just don’t waste time doing something in class that you can figure out or neaten up at home. Consider your in-class notes a “rough draft.”
- You may find it easier to keep two notebooks–one for your “rough draft” notes, and another for your rewritten notes.
- Some people type their notes, but others find that handwriting enhances their ability to remember the notes.
- The more paraphrasing you do, the better. Same goes for drawing. If you’re studying anatomy, for example, “re-draw” the system you’re studying from memory.
Make things interesting. Logical arguments will not give you motivation to study. Thinking, “if I study hard, I will get into a good university and get a good job,” will not interest you. Find something interesting in what you study. Try to find the beauty of every subject, and most importantly, try to link it with the events of your life and things that interest you.
- This linking may be conscious, like performing chemical reactions, physical experiments, or manual mathematics calculations in order to prove a formula, or unconscious, like going to the park, looking at the leaves, and thinking, “Hmm, let me review the parts of the leaf we learned in bio class last week.”
- Use your creativity to make stuff up. Try making stories to go along with the information you are studying. For example, try to write a story with all subjects starting with S, all objects starting with O, and no verbs containing V. Try creating a connected story with vocabulary words, historical figures, or other keywords
Study hard subjects first. Start with the most difficult subjects or concepts at the beginning of your study session. That way you have enough time to study them and you are more energetic and alert. Save the easier stuff for later.
- Learn the most important facts first. Don’t just read the material from beginning to end. Stop to memorize each new fact as you come to it. New information is acquired much more easily when you can relate it to material that you already know. Don’t spend a lot of time studying things that won’t be on the test. Focus all your energy on the important information.
Study the important vocabulary. Look for vocabulary lists or words in bold in the chapter. Find out if your textbook has a vocabulary section, a glossary, or a list of terms and make sure that you understand these completely. You don’t have to memorize them, but whenever there is an important concept in a particular field, there is usually a special term to refer to it. Learn these terms, and be able to use them easily, and you will have gone a long way towards mastering the subject itself.
Make a study group. Get 3-4 friends or classmates together and have everyone bring over their flash cards. Pass them around and quiz each other. If anyone is unclear on a concept, take turns explaining them to each other. Better yet, turn your study session into a game like Trivial Pursuit.
- Divide concepts among the members and have each member teach or explain the concept to the rest of the group.
- Divide lectures among the group and have each group summarize the key concepts. They can present it to the group or create an outline or 1-page summary for the rest of the group.
- Develop a weekly study group. Spend each week covering a new topic. That way you study throughout the semester instead of just at the end.
- Make sure they are people who are actually interested in studying.