Study Strategies

Study Strategies

Improving your Learning Skills - What Successful Learners Do:

  • Uses his/her self-esteem, confidence, and self worth to tackle the unknown in the knowledge that he / she will succeed in mastering each new learning exercise. Each successful challenge increases the capacity to learn more quickly and solve the next problem.
  • Demonstrates the interest, motivation, and desire to seek out new information, concepts, and challenges so he/she can apply them to new and exciting problems.
  • Uses inquiry, questioning, and critical thinking to be more efficient with time and to gain new insights on how concepts can be applied.
  • Engages each of his/her senses to access information, including observing, touching, tasting, smelling, and hearing with special emphasis on listening and reading.
  • Clarifies, validates, and assesses his/her own understanding of a concept through verbal and written presentations.
  • Integrates each new concept within a general systems perspective and quickly grasps instructions as part of a logical structure.
  • Accesses information quickly and filters relevant data from irrelevant information.
  • Experiments, discovers and is secure in his/her emotions, so he/she can take risks, and accepts failure as a frequent and productive event on the road to success at a new task.
  • Develops stronger learning skills by modeling the learning process itself.
  • Demonstrates strong social skills, easily interacts with other people, and is an enjoyable member of any productive team.
  • Invest in learning new tools, especially computers.
  • Focuses his/her energy on the important task at hand.
  • Develops an understanding of his/her value system and an appreciation for other people's value systems and applies this understanding in his/her learning experiences.
  • Clarifies his/her life goals and objectives to focus energy and accomplish measurable outcomes within his/her strategy.
  • Visualizes, models, transfers and synthesizes concepts.

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Twelve Tips for Studying and Managing your Time:

  1. Plan a definite time for studying each day. This will discourage procrastination and prevent that pile-up of work.
  2. Shorten your study time by knowing the purpose of each assignment, what to do, and how to do it before you leave class. Keep a record of all assignments in a special section of your notebook.
  3. Predicting the amount of time needed for each assignment causes you to work harder so that you save time. By timing your assignments, you are more likely to concentrate and less likely to become bored.
  4. Time yourself to see how long it takes you to read five pages of your textbook or a paperback. This will help you to estimate the time needed to complete a reading assignment. Because a textbook is loaded with information, you may have to read some sections more than once. Even teachers have to reread material. Allow time for reflecting on what you read, too.
  5. Pay attention to charts and diagrams. They can be shortcuts to understanding.
  6. When a reading assignment is made, you can expect to have a discussion of the material or a quiz in class. Take a little time to review just before class so that you are ready to participate.
  7. Every time you study, spend ten minutes in review of previous assignments. These "refresher shots" are the secret for long-term memory. This habit of frequent review also results in less time needed for studying for a major test.
  8. Use daytime for study if possible. At night you are likely to be less efficient.
  9. After studying about forty minutes, take a five-minute break. This refreshes your mind so that you can concentrate better and finish faster.
  10. Setting a "stopping time" at night will encourage hard work in anticipation of being through by ten o'clock or whatever time you set. Sometimes you may even beat the clock. The increased impetus helps you concentrate.
  11. Don't cram for hours the night before a test. Instead, distribute your study in half-hour segments over a period of days.
  12. Since learning is cumulative, new ideas must be incorporated with previous learning from lectures, readings, and lab experiments. You have to continuously make the connections and associations in your own mind. Putting it all together is easier if you schedule time daily to read, to think, to reflect, to review. Improved learning is the natural result of this approach to using your time.

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How to Read and Study Difficult Textbook Material:

The PRWR Study Method:

PREVIEW the material.

  1. Read the title.
  2. Read first and last paragraphs.
  3. Read headings and subheadings.
  4. Read boldface and italicized material.
  5. Note pictures, charts, and boxed materials.

READ the chapter straight through.

  1. Underline terms and their definitions.
  2. Place "ex" in the margin beside examples of definitions.
  3. Number items in lists (enumerations) (1,2,3, etc.).
  4. Use a star or write "imp." (for important) in the margins for other important material.
  5. Use a check mark to mark information that may be important.
  6. Place a question mark by any material that you do not understand.

WRITE the highlights of the marked chapter(s).

  1. Identify the title of the chapter, each heading in the chapter, and note other important points.
  2. Rewrite headings as basic questions to help locate important points.
  3. Write all terms and their definitions (usually set off in color, boldface, or italics in the text).
  4. Write out one clear example of each definition.
  5. Don't write everything - only headings, definitions, examples, and enumeration's (numbered lists).
  6. Follow this format:
    1. Use 8 1/2 by 11-inch paper.
    2. Write clearly.
    3. Leave 3 inch top and left margins for key words.
    4. Summarize the material whenever possible.
    5. Create vocabulary flash cards.
  7. Use color-coded index cards.
    1. Record terms on one side of card.
    2. Record definitions on the other side of card.

RECITE or learn the notes by repetition.

  1. Make questions of headings & repeat answers until learned.
  2. Finish a section then review previous sections studied.

For additional help, stop in and make an appointment with a writing tutor or instructor at the learning center - where the smart students go! For a private mini-session, bring your textbook and other course materials.

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Studying Effectively:

  • Study as if you are practicing to take a test - practice asking and answering questions.
  • Study difficult subjects first.
  • Schedule study time for a particular course close to the time when you attend class. Plan to study the evening before the class meets and soon after the class meeting.
  • Plan a weekly study schedule. Write down school/home activities, then set aside a certain time each day to study.
  • Take "time out". Reward yourself with short breaks. (10 minutes for every hour of study). Studying in several small sessions actually increases comprehension.
  • Include time for previously learned material. (Unless you review learned material periodically, you are likely to forget).
  • Eliminate external distractions (anything that stimulates your senses and in the process disrupts your concentration).
  • Be generous when estimating time for study.
  • Don't shortchange yourself on sleep or healthy meals.

And Remember...

"A mind stretched to new ideas never goes back to its original dimension." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

The Baker College System