Updated: Oct 10, 2018
Learning content and studying can get very frustrating when it seems as though your trustee method isn’t working as effectively as it once has. Different types of material may require different ways of learning the content in order for you to understand. We’ve listed various techniques commonly used to learn content and that have proven effective for certain individuals in time past. We recommend that you give them a go, and incorporate the ones that work for you in your normal study regime.
Reading – Some people can just read a part of the textbook (or notes) and take it all in but for others you may require a bit more time. Reading is a great way to gain exposure to the material. For those that find it more difficult try reading out loud, changing your position or just reading the text again.
Re-listening to lectures recordings – The intense note-taking that accompanies some lectures can be draining, and often you can miss out on vital information while trying to note down what was said two minutes ago. By recording your lectures you relieve the pressure off of catching everything the first time around, and allows you to work through it at your own pace.
Writing notes – This may seem like the typical study technique but there’s something about writing things by hand that helps you remember it. I’m not just talking about writing notes by hand in class but also writing by hand again and again to help improve your memory of the material.
Drawing on a whiteboard – Whiteboards are a great learning tool, they help you to present your information without the fear of wasting paper; mistakes can easily be corrected and the process of creating diagrams and recalling key concepts is helpful when studying.
Creating questions – Creating your own questions provokes interest as well as analyses a student’s prior learning. When creating a high quality question, a student must reflect on the learning goals of what they are studying, consider misconceptions when proposing good alternative answers, understand the topic in depth and write a clear explanation for the correct answer.
Teaching others – The best way to test if you really understand something is to try to teach it to someone else. As you prepare to teach you tend to study more cosncientiously, organize your knowledge, improving yout own understanding and recall. And as you explain the information to others, you identify knots and gaps in your own thinking.
Make up mnemonics – ‘Mnemonic’ is another word for memory tool; the word usually indicates a rhyme or a phrase, or a string of letters, or something else designed to trigger your memory. As humans we tend to link things in our minds easily hence helping us to remember them. As we think about these things, creatively, we are literally making stronger neural pathways in our brains. And the more we do this the more skilled we become at making memory work.
Drawing diagrams – Drawing diagrams will help you to visualise information which could be hard to describe. This creates a visual memory in your mind which can be recalled in an exam. Explaining a concept from a simple diagram demonstrates your level of understanding and ability to piece brief information together.
Answering questions – Practising sample answers to past exam questions can help train your brain to retrieve information. They also provide a practical insight into the style and theme of typical questions you will be tested on. Practise is key!
Creating flash card – Quickly test your knowledge of key concepts, definitions, quotes and formulas with flashcards. They are quick to refer back to and can be carried whilst on the go, the process of reinforcing key concepts strengthens your neural pathways.
Make a song – Take your course content, and try to do turn it into a song. It might sound silly, but it can definitely be effective. Think about how many song lyrics you’ve retained in general, and how quickly you can remember the lyrics to song you have heard years ago. While you’re studying, you can recite your brand new study song in your head, and realise just how much you remember. E.g. Remember the Hannah Montana Bone Dance Song
Post it notes – Any concept you are struggling with or key phrases you need to remember, write them down on a post-it notes and the amazing thing about them is that you can stick them just about anywhere. Sometimes, the location of the post-it note can help you to remember something
Create Mental Association – This is a great way to constantly remind yourself of what you have learnt whilst on the go. It basically just involves you using everyday tasks and items as ‘triggers’ to get you thinking about a particular concept you have learnt. The ability to make connections is not only an easier way to remember information, but it’s the fuel of creativity and intelligence.
Watch YouTube Videos – YouTube Videos tend to explain topics in a concise however detailed manner and utilises visual aids. YouTube videos serve multiple purposes and are always there for you to go back to.
Posters/ Mind maps – This technique enables you to channel your inner creativity, condense information and form links connecting different concepts together. Adding some flair to your posters will make the process a bit more relaxed. Colouring will help ease overall tension, so it’ll put you in a good place before getting down to the hard stuff.
Apps – We are in a very technological age so why not make the most of it. Here are 2 of our favourite apps that you should check out. We will have a blog post on Study Tools coming out soon so keep your eyes peeled.
We do not recommend that you try an untested method of learning new content in the build to your exams, your time is precious and quite frankly there is no time for trial and error. By exam season you should already know what modes of revision work best for you at that point, so stick to it.