Going back to school? Learn the best study habits.

Going back to school? Learn the best study habits.

First, let’s focus on the positive side of your study habits:

  • you’re doing your deep work early: this means you are taking advantage of your circadian rhythm and studying when your brain is more capable of doing analytical work
  • you’re using a timer: it’s a much better technique than sitting at your desk studying all day with no structure, which can negatively affect your focus and concentration
  • you are taking frequent breaks: this is much needed time off for your brain to process new information, instead of inundating it all day long without pausing and doing something unrelated to your work

Second, here are a few gaps (what we don’t know about your study habits):

  • how you measure success: how do you know if you’ve had a successful day? what do you need to accomplish each day so that you know you are making progress towards your study goals (preparing for exams)?
  • how much of the study material you memorize: it’s one thing to go through your textbook and notes, and another to make sense of what you’re reading and to draw conclusions about what is important (versus what is not)
  • how frequently you review: do you keep going through chapters of your textbook without looking back, or do you organize your study sessions so sufficient time is dedicated to reviewing what you’ve covered?
  • how much material you can recall later: when you review what you’ve learned, are you able to re-create an outline of the most important concepts from each lecture, or do you get stuck trying to remember what’s critical?

And third, what else can you add to the mix to make sure you’re being productive while studying?

  • master the art of taking notes: start with an outline of key concepts in a list format, then provide a brief explanation of each, include an example, use abbreviations and acronyms whenever possible, and emphasize what is a “must remember” detail
  • don’t just re-read your textbook: this technique is called pseudo studying and does not guarantee you will remember what’s important; instead, focus more on reviewing and actively recalling new material (see below)
  • practice with the teaching method: review each lesson out loud by going over the most important concepts; talk through each concept and try remembering what makes it relevant; mention any detail which got your attention and draw conclusions on your own (instead of looking at your textbook or notes)

For more and the original article.

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