Study Actively!

Chances are you’re not studying enough. Or you’re studying too much. Or you’re studying for the right amount of time but the information isn’t sticking. Many schools don’t directly teach study habits, so you’re probably just doing a combination of what comes naturally to you and what your mom or dad has you in the habit of doing.

In this post, we’ll give you some tips to help you study. You don’t need to use all of them every time you have a science test, but they’ll give you a sense of how best to approach your work so that you can pick out the approaches that are most useful to you. We’ll put ten tools in your toolbox. You choose which ones to use.

1. Don’t just read through your notes!

Basic idea: passive studying is a big waste of time.

The problem with reading through your notes is that it feels like you’re memorizing material but there’s no way to know if it’ll stick. When you read notes on Article 1 of the Constitution, you feel like an expert whether or not you can remember why it was important an hour later.

The number one mistake students make is to study by reading over the chapter, or their notes, or their friend’s notes. It feels like time well spent, but it isn’t. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you know the information.

So what should you do instead?

2. Write it down.

Basic idea: most students retain information best when they put pencil to paper. This action helps internalize the processes needed for the math problem they’re trying to review for a quiz and helps when it comes to memorizing the facts about the Constitution for their upcoming history test.

So start by rewriting your notes, information from the textbook, or the words you’ll need to define. And saying what you’re writing aloud as you jot it down will both help you focus and remember the information you’re studying. It’ll feel silly at first, but if you can find a room where you’re alone and actually put sound to the words you’re writing, chances are you’ll remember them better come test time.

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