It has taken me a long time to figure out what really works for me in terms of learning. I wish I had the ability to read something once and fully understand it, but I am no Lexie Grey. If you feel you have the same terms of memory capacity as the fictional doctor, consider yourself lucky.
If you are like me, and NOT like Dr. Grey, keep reading and I’ll tell you how I study efficiently. 😀
I’ve found my brain likes to write and I best understand a concept by doing. I’ve found that hands-on courses like labs and simulation activities are the types of of courses I excel in. Learning this about myself has taught me to adapt my studying by how I personally learn best.
If you find yourself a visual/hands-on learner, keep reading. Here’s how I study!
- I download the notes the professor has online before class. I will either download them to my computer or iPad, or print them out.
- I check the syllabus to see what will be covered in class that day and skim through the textbook if I have the chance to do so. This helps simply to be aware of what will be covered in class that day.
- I listen to the professor’s lectures and write down important concepts. This is done by circling, bolding, highlighting, or sometimes when a professor says: *THIS IS ON THE TEST!* you bet I’m going to write that in bold, or brightly colored ink. Every student’s favorite words.
- I draw arrows and bullet points to their notes to help keep everything in the same category for my later reference and know exactly what is important when I’m copying down the notes
- If and when I have a break after class, I will begin copying down ALL of the notes fro the professor’s including the material I have added myself – yes, that is right. I wish this wasn’t my brain’s best method because it is very time consuming but I have learned the hard way that this is what works for me. Ok, I shouldn’t say all of their notes, this includes paraphrasing, but you get it. The jist of the information professors convey is copied down into my notebook.
- I write the bullet points in black ink and write in answers to practice problems and/or extra information in blue ink. I draw pictures in various colored ink, and I highlight and bold important concepts. This way, when I’m reviewing for an exam, I can skim through and the bold and highlight will catch my eye.
- If a concept wasn’t clear through the professor’s notes, I will refer to the textbook and/or YouTube, specifically Khan Academy to clarify a topic or subject. I will add – in my own terms – the difficult topic to my copied notes from class. Acronyms/mnemonics are written in blue ink alongside my skeleton of black notes.
Before an exam:
- Flashcards and note review – I write out difficult concepts or terms on flashcards and quiz myself. My notes are highlighted and bolded for reference that my future self always thanks my past self for 😀
- Talking though a concept repetitively. This works really well with going through the flow of blood through the heart, or the metabolic pathway a certain protein channel. I have a friend take my notes and I recite the information back to them. If I don’t know something, I think of something that will remind me of it. I’m going to do an entire post on acronyms, ok? It is also beneficial to talk through and draw a process with a friend/study partner.
- I DO NOT STUDY THE NIGHT OR ESPECIALLY THE MORNING OF A TEST. My brain hates this. I control any test anxiety by stating I will only know what I know 24 hours before an exam and that I won’t learn or retain anything new past that point. Cramming makes me crazy. Instead of doing so, I will REVIEW material such as skimming over notes and reading the highlighted material. Sometimes reading them out loud helps me.
- Trusting in my preparation – this is KEY. My philosophy on exams is either you know the material, or you don’t. Attempting to study and learn new material the day before an exam, the night before exam, or the MORNING of an exam trigger serious test anxiety for me. This is why I DON’T STUDY THE DAY BEFORE AN EXAM. Reviewing is different that studying. Reviewing is looking over a concept, refreshing your memory, or looking something up briefly. Studying is attempting to learn and integrate new information. While this may not work for me, it might for you – that’s ok. All I’m saying is I have learned to trust in my preparation and that alone puts me at ease & gives me confidence when going into an exam.
*What works for me might also work very well for you (that’s the intention), but because everyone is unique, my methods might not work for you. Just remember that. 🙂
How do you study? What works best for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback!
I wish you all the best semester and I hope you celebrate the little things throughout it! Happy studying!