Learning takes effort. Actually it takes continuous effort to truly understand the material. The following are some suggestions for effective study habits:

  • be active - don't just 'read over the material'
    • always have a pen in hand and make 'summary notes' - these notes can be thrown away immediately - the act of writing makes you much more engaged in learning and improves memory
  • review on a regular basis - don't just cram for the test
    • review notes at the end of the day and again at the end of the week
    • take breaks as required (i.e. study for 45 minutes and then take a 10 minute, well earned break)
  • seek answers to what you do not fully understand
    • during your reviews you may find that you do not fully understand some topics/issues
    • seek clarification from classmates, do the assigned readings, or talk to your professor
  • look for connections and relationships between various concepts and facts
    • the more you are able to relate new information to 'old ideas' the better you will understand and remember the new stuff
  • make a schedule - your study calendar can include
    • due dates for assignments and tests
    • regularly scheduled study times
  • try the distillation approach - especially during midterms and finals
    • review your lecture notes and reduce (distill) them to about 1/4 (e.g. 40 pages of raw notes becomes 10 pages of distillation notes)
      • take a quick break and then review your distillation notes and see if you can remember all the details of the original notes
      • if not, enhance your distillation notes
    • next, use only your distillation notes and reduce them again by 1/4 (e.g. 10 pages becomes only 2-3)
      • take a quick break and then review your 2nd distillation notes and see if you can remember all the details of the original notes
    • continue distilling until you have reduced the whole term's notes to a single page and are able to remember details from the original notes

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