We all have our favorite way to study: index cards, reading the textbook, study groups etc. However, if you only use one study technique which covers one learning style, then you are severely missing out. Here are some study techniques every student at ESU should try, both new and old.
1. Learn the material.
You actually start studying the first day you go to class. Your best study tool is your syllabus because it states what your professor is expecting of you in terms of tests, homework, and attendance. Therefore, the first technique is doing everything the syllabus tells you to do: attend class, read that expensive textbook, and do all assignments. Many students write off the textbook as an expensive paper weight, but the textbook allows you to engage a different learning style. In fact, when you listen to your professor lecture, take notes, and read the textbook, you are engaging the visual, auditory, and tactile learning styles. The more learning styles you use, the better chance you have of the information being converted from short term memory to long term memory.
2. Use the SQ3R textbook reading method.
The SQ3R method allows you to have a strategic way to use your textbook to its fullest potential. This study technique involves turning section headings into questions before you read and then finding the answer as you read along. This technique allows you to find the main idea of the section without worrying about irrelevant information. Do some research and attend any seminars that The Department of Academic Enrichment and Learning (also known as Rosenkrans) hold on this subject or any other studying related subject.
3. Create flash cards more appropriate for the 21st century.
While index cards are great and all, you can make them even more useful (and cheaper) by making them through the internet. You are welcome to make online digital flashcards, but I suggest a bridge between the old and the new. I found a website in which you can type in the word and the definition to make PDF flashcard,s which you can print! The beauty of this technique is repetition. First, you type in all the information. The act of typing uses both tactile and visual. After you have the PDF file, print it out and cut and fold the cards, studying them as you go. It adds a little bit more oomph to the traditional flash cards.
4. Add kinesthetic methods to your studying.
Hannah Montana’s bone dance is a great example; however, it does not have to be that creative. The following method works well with things that need to be matched, but could also be used for definitions. Split the flashcards in half and then mix them up. Now, match the term with its definition. You can tape them on the wall or use a large table to rearrange them. You’ll always remember this study technique.
5. Sleep on it.
I find that I remember information best when I study before I go to sleep so that it marinates in my mind. Then, I surprise myself with the information I can remember. Basically, just don’t study right before the test because the information isn’t stored in your long term memory yet, and you may only remember the first and last things you learned. Or, you know, you can put your notes under the pillow and hope your brain soaks it up.
6. Add mental images to your study habits.
This method is great when you have to remember a list of things. Number your list from 1 to 10 and use words that rhyme with the numbers and can be visually stimulating. Here is the list professors that use this method use: sun, shoe, tree, floor (or door), dive, sticks, heaven, date, wine, and hen. Then, assign each number a term. The final and most important step is to create a mental image with the word that rhymes with your number and your term. Just connect the information with a visual, and you will never forget it.
7. Make up mnemonics.
We have all heard of PEMDAS, right? Well, someone somewhere made it into a thing, and now we all use it. While your mnemonics may not be as epic, they are still a great way to memorize a list of things in a certain category. The crazier, the better. I actually write out my mnemonics as soon as I start my test, and my teachers always commented on how great they were.
8. Reduce definitions to a few important words.
Memorizing a whole textbook definition is extremely difficult and unnecessary. Reduce definitions to 2 or 3 important words and use word associations on your test. Then, just look for those exact or similar words on your test. Of course, if your professor literally says “Remember the definition word for word,” well then I’d listen to him (or her).
9. Put things into your own words.
This study technique is pretty self-explanatory. Try to put any definitions into your own words to make it easier for you to understand and remember. Even say it aloud or explain it to someone else. Teaching is the best way to learn. So, explain the material to a friend, and then, buy them lunch because they are really doing you a favor.
10. Study with a trusted group of people who want the same thing.
Finally, the last study technique is talk to each other about the material. Explain it to each other. Combine your brains and use what each of you know to help each other. Use each other’s techniques. Help each other float so your GPAs don’t sink.
Do you have a creative study technique? Share your ideas and comment below!