Too often students find themselves only days away from a midterm or final exam and just starting to review notes from class. Sometimes we are even guilty of cramming for a test or staying awake the entire night before. Creating unnecessary distress and despair before walking into the exam room is the last thing any student needs. If only there was a better way!
The good news is that studying does not have to boring, stressful or even all too difficult. By developing positive work habits that aim to transfer information into long-term memory and improve our understanding, studying can be a positive lifestyle change. Consistent studying using simple review tactics listed below or your own effective study method, will contribute to less stress, reaffirm what was recently learned in class, as well as help to develop a deeper understanding of course material.
- Active Review is Your New Best Friend
Fleet, Goodchild & Zajchowski (2006) explain that reviewing notes after class reinforces the information in a person’s long-term memory (57). Finding regular time, approximately fifteen to twenty minutes, within twenty-four hours after a lecture to go over your notes will make a vast difference in the comprehension and recollection of what was learned. To make this reviewing extra effective, challenge yourself to put your phone down for that window of time and resist the temptation to log onto social media sites. The most important element to this studying technique is the intention to remember the information. Langan (2002) asserts that deciding to remember something not only signifies your willingness to effectively learn, but it provides motivation to get through a small study session (211).
- Test Yo’ Self- For a Deeper Understanding
Develop your own questions from lectures and readings to develop a deep comprehension and application of knowledge. After using active review, develop some questions that ask about the main concepts from the lecture or readings. Try to come up with questions that push you to not only show that you understand, but that you can also apply a concept or analyze the information. Both summarizing and expanding upon important ideas in an answer demonstrates that you really grasp the concepts discussed in class. As an added bonus, these questions will prepare you for any assignments or tests relating to that topic! (Fleet, Goodchild & Zajchowski, 2006, 57). You can read our previous blog entry for more information about creating a deeper understanding with Bloom’s taxonomy.
- Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Meeting with friends or acquaintances from your class to discuss lecture material is a positive way to review information (Fleet, Goodchild & Zajchowski, 2006, 57). Working in a productive group setting elicits conversation about the lecture or readings which can provide clarification for any ambiguous parts of the material. As well, conversation between peers creates an opportunity for different people to explain their unique perspectives of the information, which you can compare with your own conceptualization or understanding. This allows for an engaging and interesting way to review ideas and their implications. Grab a coffee, settle down, and spend time with your friends evaluating the week’s lecture. If you would like to learn more about group studying, read up on our blog entry to learn more about its benefits.
- Rehearsal is Key, Rehearsal is Key, Rehearsal is Key
Be sure to continually test yourself and review material throughout the semester to fully commit the information to your long-term memory. Rehearsal is when a person uses information over and over again, spanning across a period of time, as a way of remembering and learning. This is not only a way to recall information, but it helps you build upon the foundational knowledge you previously learned with newer and more intricate information (Langan, 2002, 212). Several kinds of memory techniques, such as using senses or focussing on key words contribute towards a deeper and more personalized recollection of the information you have previously learned. Using the senses as a strategy, such as writing out the information, drawing an associated symbol or picture, or even speaking the information aloud are proven to be more effective than just reading over the information silently (Langan, 2002, 213). Any time we make our review strategies active instead of passive, we benefit from improved learning. Key words, or hooks, help you remember ideas by associating them with a central word that is representative of the overall concept. For instance, see the chart below for an example of a key words exercise you can use in your own notes (Langan, 2002, 214).
|Uses for Plants in an Urban Environment||Key Words|
|1.||Gives off oxygen (and pleasant smell)||Oxygen|
|2.||Absorbs air pollution (gases used as nutrients)||Pollution|
|3.||Cools the air (evaporation from leaves)||Cools|
|4.||Catches dust particles||Dust|
|5.||Muffles noises (from traffic or construction)||Muffles|
You can avoid future stress by starting to study now! If you would like to discuss study strategies further, we are available for individual consultations at the Centre for Student Success. You can book an appointment here at the Brantford campus through the student portal. We are here to help!
Fleet, J., Goodchild, F., & Zajchowski, R. (2006). Learning for Success: Effective Strategies for Students (4th ed.). Toronto, ON: Nelson.
Langan, John. (2002). Reading and Study Skills (7th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education