Studying is an oft neglected pastime by the high school or college student. This is not necessarily because the value of study is not known to them. Nor is it necessarily because other interests come before school. Sometimes, instead, study is placed second because the individual does not have good study habits.
As a homeschool student, I had excellent study habits and awful test taking skills. I ran out of time during my first college mathematics test because I checked and rechecked the questions, without moving on. I completed about two-thirds of the test, but suffered for not completing the whole. This was an eye opener to me and I quickly learned how to take a test. After I learned to take tests efficiently and because I enjoy school very much, I started to tutor. I have tutored for free, in exchange for some other good or service, and for payment. One thing I noticed as a consistent problem is that people do not know how to study. Learning this, there is no wonder that many colleges require a course on “College Success” or “Information Literacy”. These courses are necessary to take the average high school graduate and give him the skills so he can learn to be a scholar.
In order to study, many people listen to their music. They must have their computers. They may even decide to study in a public place. Why do people purposely set themselves up to be distracted during study? Music, internet, and people are all major distractions. I would guess that it is because they do not know how to study efficiently, so they welcome those unruly distractions. Do yourself a favor: turn off the music. Leave the computer alone. Hide your cell phone or leave it at home. Find a quiet, distraction free area, such as a library. Most people cannot multitask as well as they think they can. It is better that it is not attempted.
In order to study well, a person should study each subject for many small amounts of time every single day. Now, studying is not the same as completing homework or writing papers. These things can find their place in study time, but they should not replace study time.
Plan: Using the course guide or syllabus as a reference, decide what you need to study and how much studying you need to complete per day. Be reasonable here, because too little time and effort will be ineffective. Too much time will become overwhelming. Depending on the subject, it might be necessary to spend two fifteen minute blocks of time per day to study, as well as the necessarily length of time to complete homework in addition. For other subjects, it may be necessary only to have one half an hour block of time per week. Plan according to the subject and your personal needs. Try to break study and homework time into reasonable lengths of time. Study for the allotted amount of time and move on to the next subject. You may even want to set motivational goals to assist in this planning stage, that way you can measure how much you’ve learned.
As a note, when studying languages, it is important to spend at least 10 minutes a day reviewing vocabulary in addition to normal study habits.
Supplies: Studying really involves the learner, the book, the notebook, and flashcards. Remember a pen or pencil, otherwise the notebook and flashcards may prove useless. There may be times that a computer might be a needed study aid, but when the internet can be avoided, it should be avoided. The internet has a habit of trapping its victims for hours on social media, wikipedia, and entertainment websites without remorse.
Environment: Study in a well-lit place that is open, comfortable, and quiet. This can be outside, in your dorm, or in the library. Study areas can also include coffee shops, trains or buses, or quiet corners of fast food restaurants. If you are a social butterfly who strikes up conversation with everyone you meet, public places may be places to avoid. As long as you will not be too distracted by the surrounding area, you can study almost anywhere.
Sit down in a comfortable, supportive position. You can follow the principle of sitting at a desk: feet flat on the floor, good back support.
Look over class notes, reviewing important information as needed.
Open the book to the appropriate page and skim. Take note of any keywords in your notebook. Only skim 3-5 pages at a time, trying to break at natural points.
Review all of the tables, captions, and text boxes, this information has been highlighted for a reason.
Write definitions, equations, or tables as needed to help you remember. In your notebook, try to write these in your own words to understand them.
Copy the definitions, equations, and tables precisely onto flashcards and use these later when you have five minutes to review between classes, on your break at work, after meals, etc.
Read the full page of what you have just skimmed, understand the concepts in context. Add important or helpful information to your notes.
Use the flashcards whenever short times of five minutes appear for quick study sessions.
Homework: If homework is needed to be completed, allot this time in addition to normal study time. Homework can be done after the chapter or lesson has been studied, but should not take place of this study. Homework should also not take place of review time.
Time: Only study the amount that is needed to understand the subject, then review often. Trying to intensely study or memorize the book will not help, but hinder the goal of learning. Try to study in blocks of fifteen to thirty minutes per subject, then move on. Try to review daily, even if study is restricted to specific days. Remember to come back to the subjects that not enough time was spent or the concepts are harder to understand.
Review: Review the material learned often, sometimes going back to earlier material until you are familiar with all of the lessons. Remember that repetition is the mother of learning, according to the Latin proverb (repetitio est mater studiorum).