Whether you are learning information for the very first time or trying to master the material in time for a test, studying is a topic of interest for all college students. In this section, we explain a few of our favorite study strategies to help you on your learning journey.
THE BOX METHOD
This method is easily one of our favorite studying methods out there. Not only does it use spaced practice (spacing out your studying in manageable pieces to increase retention), but it also allows the brain to forget and retrieve (memory retrieval). This powerful tool maximizes study efficiency by reducing the time spent on information you have mastered, prioritizing the material you still need to learn, and helping you visualize the progress you have made. There is also some bonus information on creating effective flashcards.
Click the photo for more information!
INTENSIVE STUDY SESSIONS
Set a goal. Remember to make SMART goals (specific-measurable-achievable-relevant-timely) and stick with them.
Study with focus. This is the ‘meat’ of the session. This is where you put everything aside.
Reward yourself. But make sure to set a timer for 10-15 minutes. Take a reasonable break that possibly satisfies your other time commitments, like exercising, making a grocery list, or having a quick phone call with your mom. Allow yourself this time to “forget” the material and recall it again in the next step. This helps commit things to long-term memory.
Review. Use other studying tips like self-testing, story telling, or concept maps.
Concept maps are a great utility player when it comes to learning and studying. You can use them to organize your notes in a clear manner, expand on important ideas, visualize course material, and so much more. You can also use them as a study aid, by first looking at them in their true form, and then copying the maps, removing information, and using it as a self-test aid. For an even deeper studying activity, you can use a blank piece of paper as a place for brain dumping all that you know so you can identify what you need more time on.
VARK - LEARNING PREFERENCES
Understanding how you prefer to learn is a major step in understanding yourself as a lifelong learner. There are many tools out there, but the most popular is the VARK assessment. This test asks some basic questions and lets you know how you prefer to learn - visual, aural, read/write, kinesthetic (VARK), or a combination of these. Knowing where to begin when it comes to studying is difficult, but this tool can give you a starting point based on what you already know about how you learn.
Click the image below to be redirected to a VARK website.
Caveat: One of the biggest problems with any personality/learning assessment is its ability to limit a learner. In the field of learning theory and learning assistance, there is a movement to get away from learning "styles" and instead recognize them as "preferences". Learners can use the VARK assessment to seek out ways in which they prefer to study or learn, but should be aware they will likely be exposed to learning environments and exams not conducive to their learning preference. A great way to ensure content mastery is to alternate back and forth between different learning preferences and ensuring you're hitting each of the VARK styles.