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How to become an expert at studying.

Simple question, not so simple answer. So, why is it so challenging for students to organize their notes, create efficient study schedules, and develop effective study habits?

The answer is straightforward … every student is different! What works for one student may be disastrous for another. Some students thrive on colour coordination; for others it’s a nightmare. Some students need to type every word the teacher says; others need to close their books and simply listen. Some need to make cue cards; others need to make online quizzes. The point is: every student learns, studies, and retains information differently.

Which brings us to the core of this post: How to study?

The first question a student must answer is: what kind of a learner am I?

🔺Am I a visual learner?

🔺Am I an audio learner?

🔺Am I a tactile learner?

Answering this question will provide a great deal of relief and clarity. For example, once a student understands and acknowledges she is an audio learner, taking extensive colour-coordinated notes is useless, counterproductive, and frustrating. This awareness will enable that student to shift away from visual cues and focus more on audio-friendly techniques, such as recording the teacher.

The next question students must answer is: what props do I need to complement my learning style?

For example, a visual learner may respond well to colour-coordinated notes using coloured post-its and highlighters. Visual learners also tend to appreciate white boards and big calendars, which help them colourfully organize and disperse their workload. Physical props help students turn abstract notions into something more concrete.

Once you’ve answered the above questions, it’s time to get to work and put pen to paper (no pun-intended). It’s important to remain flexible and open-minded throughout this process. For example, you might find you’ve discovered a great method of studying for science courses. You’ve been studying this way for a couple of weeks and it’s really paying off. Naturally, you apply the same technique to your math class. But then you don’t experience the same result.

Do not be alarmed. That’s normal!

It’s very common for different classes to require slight modifications in study habits. Some science classes do very well with a memorization approach, whereas math requires less memorizing and more logical application.

The point is: perfecting study habits is a process that is cyclical in nature. It’s not a straight trajectory. You must alternate between creating, modifying, and testing your habits to see which work and which don’t. No matter what you do, don’t give up! The more you go through these cycles, the more your habits become second nature—and the sooner you become a resourceful and capable student!

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