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One thing a lot of college students struggle with is studying for exams, and actually absorbing material well enough to perform well on exams, but there are a few quick things you can do that will help you remember and understand even the trickiest of topics.
The most important thing you need to do is take good, organized notes in class. A lot of teachers cover a lot of material in class, and it is impossible to remember everything they said without writing it down in some way. A lot of students take notes on their laptops, but this is actually harmful to your memory. Your brain makes a connection with what you write by hand, which causes you to remember it more.
Note Taking Strategies
When taking notes in class, you need to write fast, but still keep the information organized. The best way to do this is to have a set system in how you take notes. For classes like math, it is best to break things down into steps and do example problems following the steps so that while doing homework and studying you can refer back to what you have done and memorize steps, but for classes that involve actual note taking, try my note-taking strategy.
- All Headings should be set apart in some way, headings are important because they separate information into categories, which makes it easier for the brain to process. Headings can include slide titles, chapter titles, and names of people or theories, whatever works best for the class you are taking
- Remember it is better to write more than not enough, shorten what your teacher says and write down anything that helps you click with what is going on under the right heading
- Leave some extra space between headings or in the margins, if you have important thoughts or find new information later it is important to add that to your notes because it can help your thought process and memory when studying.
- Find a way to draw attention to important information, different than what you do for your headings, could be underlining it, highlighting, or anything else that works, some people try to write important info in a different color but it is easier to do it after, so you don't waste time or over highlight
- Finally, make sure you mark any vocabulary words so you can find them easily later
When actually studying, set time for breaks, if you study too hard you will get tired and irritated, the information won't sink in, and everything you did will be pointless. If I start to rush something I immediately stop, step back for a minute and maybe take a walk around my dorm room or building. It helps to clear your mind so you can prepare to continue studying. I will also watch short youtube videos to recharge. I pick a 3-10 minute video, and once it is over I start studying again, this is good because it gives you some structure to your breaks, timers are also a good way to do this.
Other ways to increase what you learn is not studying in bed, study at your desk or in a lounge or library. This will allow you not only to focus more, but sleep better because your bed will not be associated with work.
Rewarding yourself is another big part of studying, this doesn't necessarily mean with things or food, even just taking a night off. You can use planners and journals to track your studying and set up a system of rewards.
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