Permission granted to duplicate for non-profit educational or research purposes. Countless times students have asked me what is the best way to study. While the recommendations that I am about to make to you are no guarantee of success, I believe they will optimize your chances of success.
Perspectives on the problem:
College is different. Most of the students are highly intelligent and some are highly motivated. In almost all college courses if you have a poor vocabulary and do not really like to read, you are in serious trouble. If you can succeed with your weird teachers, then you can succeed with your even weirder bosses. Your study habits formed in high school may vector you toward failure because you have never experienced what it takes to perform at the college level. That is why the freshman year is the hardest year you will ever experience in college.
It takes about one year to learn how to learn at a college level.
Most people never learned to learn at a college level. They then
encourage their children to get the education they never got. They
rarely read and talk about intellectual ideas, thereby predisposing their
children for low academic achievement. You should break the pattern.
There is no gain in life without some pain. Based on my extensive
observation of student performances on college tests, I recommend the following
study time per test:
The brain does not process and store information the way students prefer studying. Occasionally, some succeed by studying at the last minute, but they are exceptions to the rule. Some people's brain and life experiences reduces the time required to learn particular types of material. In other types of material they have to spend more time to master the material.
Research suggests that the slowest 10 percent of the students may need 5 to 6 times as much time to learn the same material as the fastest 10 percent. Each person is highly likely to have strengths and weaknesses. Overcoming your weakness increases your strength. In other words, you can succeed if you pay the price necessary for success.
The price of success:
If you were offered $1,000,000 if you had an A in a college course, could you accomplish the goal? Probably. You do not have to be a genius to graduate from college. You have to work hard, be persistent, and pay attention to details. These traits are ultimately why a college degree is valuable, plus the capacity to learn.
How to get started:
Failure begins in an excuse, a short cut. There is no royal road to learning or achieving excellence. Do the following without wavering.
Reading, underlining, and taking notes:
Use only the left half of the page. Transfer to the right side of the paper comments your teacher made about the material during lecture. You must always be ahead of your teacher in your reading.
Research shows that the more different ways you present information to the brain the easier it is to learn. In other words hear it, see it, say it, write it, practice it, highlight it, quiz it, etc. Underlining is a skill that must be developed. The tools of underlining should vary based on your preference. Use highlighters or colored pens. I recommend red and blue Flair pens. If you use these, you need a plastic ruler for underlining. Use a drafting plastic triangle and have it cut off at the three ends about one inch each.
Now spray paint the underlining ruler with flat black paint. This reduces or eliminates glare from light when reading and underlining.
At first you should underline approximately 85 percent of material. Later on as your skill increases, you should reduce the material underlined.
Use red and blue Flair pens for underlining important material as you read. Use red for extremely important material or to offset important material, and blue for moderately important material. You should use a pink and yellow highlighter when reading the material the second time.
The process of reading and deciding if the material is important enough to be underlined increases memory for that material. It is the decision and thinking that creates the memory. It is best to overpredict your instructors at first. It is easier to cut back on the material to be learned than to increase the amount to be learned. Use stars to arrange the material in hierarchies of importance. Three stars would be more important than two stars.
The 3"x5" card system.
The biggest problem with textbooks and lecture notes is that we cannot separate the material that we know from the material that we do not know. Because of this, we waste hours studying what we already know, rather than concentrating our valuable time on what we do not know. The red tells your mind that this is extremely important material.
Writing the material stores the information in the brain in a way that is not normally used. On the back of the cards is definition about the material on the front. After numbering the cards so you can put them back in order later on, you should start studying the cards until you feel you know the material.
Now then turn the cards over and try and answer your fill in the blanks orally. If you get the questions right, place the material into a "I know this material" stack. Now continue working on the material that you don't know until you can answer the questions on all the cards.
As you reread the chapter, bracket and star the material you believe is extremely important. Sometimes use a yellow highlighter for critical information.
Now reread the material you have bracketed or stored and high speed review the material on the 3"x5" cards.
Good nutrition helps learning. Research suggests that zinc and
B vitamins are essential for learning.