Study skills/tips/tricks?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 11, 2008 2:36 AM GMT
    This is a question directed at any RJ guys who can help, although those with college or university experience hopefully will have something to say. I'm halfway through my first term at a university in Canada that is somewhat notorious for "weeding people out" - putting us to the grindstone in 1st year. I'm in a general arts program taking psychology, politics, English, calculus and economics.

    I have just began to receive marks from the winter exams and I am having mixed results. In high school, natural inclination in most areas allowed me to do well without a great deal of effort, but not surprisingly, that doesn't work nearly as effectively in university.

    I have done well on essays in all classes, but exams are bringing my marks down a LOT; I do the assigned readings, but I feel I am having a hard time retaining information.

    So, finally, the question: Do any of you have any general tips for studying, retention, or anything else that can help? I would really appreciate any information. Thanks a lot guys.
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    Jan 11, 2008 2:47 AM GMT
    I forgot to mention, the area I would like to major in is Psychology. I don't know if there are any Psych-specific hints, but if there were...you get the idea.icon_smile.gif
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    Jan 11, 2008 4:10 AM GMT
    Look up something called "mnemonics" (spelled correctly) or ask your teachers what it means. This helped me remember a lot of information for exams. If you had to remember these following things:

    abnormal
    schizophrenic
    anxiety
    bipolar
    sociopathic

    You would make up a sayng using the first letters of the word so those five words are now
    (A)lex -abnormal
    (S)ays - schizo
    (A)nnie -anxiety
    (B)ought -bipolar
    (S)ocks -sociopath
    Because you know the nature of the answers they will be easy to recall.

    Instead of remembering all the words you just have to remember a saying which will recall the words you need.
    A sentence is easier than remembering a lot of info.

    Another example would be name 7 planets

    (M)y - mercury
    (M)other - mars
    (E)ventually - earth
    (P)icked - pluto
    (J)ason - jupiter

    Now that you know the first letter by reciting the saying, the answers come easily.

    Good luck
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    Jan 11, 2008 4:49 AM GMT
    I would suggest developing long-term memory skills.

    For me I had to write and re-write things several times and it would stick. I also did the flash card thing which helped out immensely. Listening to soothing music like Enya, classical, and opera while stydying helped too. Hahahaha, who knew.

    Also try study groups too since involvement with others helps stimulate memory. Hope everything works out for you and happy studying.
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    Jan 11, 2008 5:09 AM GMT
    study in a group, and force yourself to have to explain your ideas, or anything you are trying to memorize to other people. If you can explain in clearly to someone else, then you'll remember it.
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    Jan 11, 2008 5:11 AM GMT
    I find it's easier to remember things when you study and quiz yourself with a friend (switching back and forth). you can have fun when someone gets stuck on an answer and before you know it you've got it down packed yourself. along with repetition it should help. icon_biggrin.gif
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    Jan 11, 2008 5:12 AM GMT
    Yes scottNV has a great trick. 2 more good ones are HOMES for the great lakes and for math Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. But sometimes you really just have to study, study, study. Get some of your friends together for a study group for your different classes especially Psych. Also check with the University about this, my college actually offers a class for study skills. If they don't then suggest they look into it. Is your roommate a factor? Mine was a little bit, plus it was the first time being on my own. Having the freedom to do what I wanted without mom's permission. Though with all the freedom I paid the price. I'm on academic probation. There's a lot to factor in figuring out what you need to do in order to do better in classes.
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    Jan 11, 2008 5:13 AM GMT
    And yes all tests and exams can kill your grades. I found that out.
  • ep83

    Posts: 144

    Jan 11, 2008 5:35 AM GMT
    Talk to your professors. They don't want to fail people or have them do poorly. Even if you are on a forced curve you can ask them how you can do better.

    As for specific study skills, I can't really give you any more than anyone else. Each person learns differently and you just have to figure out what works best for you. If you are a visual learner, try to find ways that incorporate that. Same with tactile, aural, kinetic, etc. Talking tricky points through often helps, as can explaining them to others, even if you don't understand it entirely yourself.

    You also need to tell yourself to relax. You are going through a little bit of culture shock. You are still smart, but are probably used to being a big fish in a small pond. Now you are in a bigger pond with other big fish and it takes an adjustment period to get used to it.
  • Kohaku

    Posts: 87

    Jan 11, 2008 5:45 AM GMT
    Try to avoid highlighting in textbooks to study. It's a pain to go back through a text to study what you've highlighted. I like to write important stuff on note cards. You retain better if you write stuff, and they're easy to carry around and study wherever, versus a textbook which is bulky and less likely to be carried a lot.
    Sit it the front 3 rows of your classroom, especially in big lecture halls. You get better reception, the teacher is more likely to remember your face, and you can't see 90% of the class, so you have less distractions.
    Always take notes in class, and feel free to use shorthand and abbreviation. However, I always recopy my notes neatly in a different notebook. I promise that will help you retain stuff.
    And look over your notes every day. 15 minutes a day will bring you A's. (That's 15 per subject) Try to study with as few distractions as possible. Try to recreate a "test environment" when you study. If you listen to music or are in noisy areas while you study, tests will feel awkward because they are quiet and still.
    Study groups are great, tutors are amazing.
    Also, try to make a few new friends in every class you have. This is so that you have a safe network of people to get notes or homework from if you happen to miss a day of class, which you should never do. But just in case...
    For stuff like calculus or anything that has a lot of formulas, make a neat and often updated formula sheet that you can look at for easy reference during homework, studying and before tests.
    And as always, get plenty of sleep, eat healthy, and avoid drinking during the school week. Alcohol can negatively effect your ability to retain information for more than 24 hours, even if you don't feel hung-over.
    Don't cram for exams at the expense of lots of sleep. You won't retain very much and you'll be tired.
    Well, those are my very best studying tips. Hope they help you! Good luck!
  • irishkcguy

    Posts: 780

    Jan 11, 2008 5:52 AM GMT
    I was a high school teacher for 10 years and I think the most important thing is to go to class every day. When you get to college and you suddenly can skip class if you feel like it, it's very very very easy to blow class off. I think just being in class every day, taking good notes and actively participating in class discussion is really important. You will get out of your classes as much as you put into them.

    I used to tell students that there really isn't any quick solution to finding out how to study efficiently. It took me a couple of semesters in college to figure out what worked best for me. I can only speak for the US, but most public schools here are suck a blow-off most kids go to college totally unprepared for what they are walking into.

    Good luck to you. Don't forget to learn when you are in school, grades are important but I know a lot of people who got good grades and didn't learn much.
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    Jan 11, 2008 6:02 AM GMT
    Well, I think you should definitely try doing the note card thing. It was incredibly helpful to me. Just the act of writing my notes again even in an abbreviated form seemed very valuable. It's an easy way to study once you've stripped away all but the key words and phrases. As you find you've learned a particular card just separate it out and whittle them down till you've learned them all. They're very convenient to look at when walking to classes or while at lunch. Try to read over your notes several times as soon as possible after you take them while its still fresh in your mind. I'm a very visual learner though. There were plenty of times when I truly didn't understand a particular question or the answer I was giving but I knew it was right because I was able pull up that page of notes in my head. I could remember where words were in relation to each other and were they were in relation to the rest of the information on the page. It's a cheap way to get a right answer but even if you lack understanding you can still have memorization icon_smile.gif

    Oh, just thought of something else. Before you begin a test, write out any formulas, mnemonics, conversions, or anything else that might help you before you start the test. It only takes a minute to do that and some of stuff will be a lot harder to recall when you've only got 5 mintues left to finish 20 more questions.
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    Jan 11, 2008 6:44 AM GMT
    Finding out what type of learner you are, as already mentioned, is probably going to be the most helpful.

    Personally mnemonics never really worked for me -- it always seemed like it took the same amount of energy to remember the mnemonic as it did to just brute memorize the informaton, but I have friends who loved them.

    Writing stuff down, as notes or often in the margin, worked well for me -- even if I never again read what I wrote, but the act of writing reinforced the information and also helped me to focus.

    While I don't necessarily condone skipping class, I've done it before and there were times where that was more efficient than going to class. If you just need to pass the tests and the class is poorly taught you can sometimes learn the information faster on your own.

    But work at finding how you learn best, talk to teachers, and yes, get tutors if needed.
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    Jan 11, 2008 7:16 AM GMT
    Yes, finding out what kind of learner you are is important, but at the same time, I find that studying with people who are differant kind of learners really helps. I study w/ a guy who can do all sorts of math in his head. Meanwhile, I have to write everything down. I wouldn't say either of us is smarter than the other, just I have to be able to see my thought process on paper. When we get done, its about 1/2 and 1/2 who is right. Then we both learn when we explain what happened. I'm forced to listen to his mental ramblings and try to keep up, and he's forced to follow my thoughts on paper. But that's just for conceptual stuff. Studying this way works best for our Chem and Calculus stuff with lots of math.

    As for pure memorization, I have a notebook in which I just copy stuff over and over again. I change the order up so I actually know the stuff. This works really well for econ graphs and stat's equations I usually listen to classical or opera music while I do. I dunno why, but it really does help me for simple memorization.

    Someone said highlighting is pointless. I'd disagree to a point. I highlight stuff the first time I look it up, and that way if I need to find that again, I know its highlighted and quicker.

    The biggest thing for me is studying in several differant ways, it helps my brain link stuff together for some reason.
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    Jan 11, 2008 7:46 AM GMT
    Wow, thanks a lot for all of these great responses. I need to look over them in some more detail, but I already learned a few things that I have never heard of but seem promising.

    If anyone is interested also, I did a test to find out what kind of learner I am, and I am primarily an auditory learner, and to a lesser extent a visual learner.

    Again, thanks for all the responses, I plan to implement some ASAP.