To become a more efficient student, you need to learn how to learn. You have to deal with tons of new information every day. Yet, the task is not to accumulate knowledge but to be able to retain, synthesize, and analyze the material. Certain study skills prove to be more useful than others. Here are some tips on how to improve your study strategies and get better grades.
1. Taking Notes
When you take notes in the classroom, you become more focused on the presented information and have better chances of remembering the material. You should put information in your own words. This way, there are more chances that you will retain it in the future. Taking notes is a major study skill that helps you to think about the concepts and topics actively.
Some people prefer to type their notes on the computer. It gives you a speed advantage. According to the study conducted by Pam A. Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer, the participants managed to type 309 words during a 15-minute lecture, while those who wrote information on the paper could record only 173 words. However, longhand notes were more efficient for information retention. The thing is that students tend to be more selective when writing by hand. It allows them to summarize and simplify the material, having some extra processing.
Regardless of the tools that you choose for taking notes, make sure you listen actively. There are several methods that can help you record well-structured information:
- the outline method
- the Cornell method
- the mind mapping method
- the charting method
Do not forget to include useful examples and definitions. Instead of writing information word by word, focus on big ideas, summaries, and conclusions.
2. Essay Writing
Effective writing is another study skill that can get you the desired grades. To become good at it, you need to divide the writing process into several phases. Get examples of how to write papers from quality writers. They always start with prewriting. Here you need to transfer all the knowledge you have about the topic to the paper. It gives you a clear focus for further research.
Now that you know what you are looking for, it becomes easier to make connections between the concepts that you discuss. Researching the topic, cover the questions that you have identified during the prewriting stage. Locate 2-3 sources to support your main argument and all the important points.
Remember that your first draft does not have to be perfect. Focus on content and structure. You will have time to hone the technical issues later. During the editing stage, make sure that your paper is free from misspellings, formatting errors, and grammar issues. To notice the sentences that do not sound right, read your paper out loud.
3. Active Reading
Active reading helps to engage with the content for better retention. How can you make most of the time you spend on reading assignments? Try to apply the SQ3R reading method for effective comprehension. SQ3R stands for Skim, Question, Read, Recite, and Review.
As a first step, complete preliminary skimming of the chapter you are about to read. Look through headings, concentrate on the topic and concluding sentence of each paragraph, and pay attention to words in bold and italics. It will prepare your brain for memorizing information. Then, you need to set questions to see a particular purpose of your reading assignment. Most textbooks have these questions prepared for you at the end of the chapter.
Now you can move on to the actual reading and look for the answers to your questions. Having finished the chapter, recall key takeaways and conclusions in your own words. Test your memory and write them down or speak aloud. It will allow you to understand and organize the material. Finally, review the text again, paying attention to detail. This method is time-consuming, but it proves to be effective in the long run. It helps you to boost comprehension and allows recalling more of what you read.
Attention and concentration skills are key to effective learning. What influences our attention and concentration? Environment, interest in the assignment, desire to seek new stimuli when you get bored, your state of mind, and the duration of the study session. Your brain cannot focus on two different things at a time. When you try to multitask, you just switch attention from one task to another, wasting your cognitive resources.
Even though it is hard, try to avoid distractions for as long as you can. Your actions create habits. For example, if you resist urges to check social media during study sessions, you train behavior patterns. As a result, it becomes easier to sit and pay attention to one task at a time for a longer time.
Having a separate study zone dedicated to a single activity is useful in staying focused. Try to set an intention and put away all the non-essential things. Besides, remember to take regular breaks every 25-30 minutes to help your brain relax and return to work fresh and focused.
To Sum Up
Improved study skills will help you to manage college work with less effort. They offer you a significant advantage, improving information retention and recall. So, try them out to give your academic performance a boost.