“How Should I Study?”

By far, the most common question I get is: “How should I study?” The answer is not simple since I need to answer two other questions first… “How should I take notes?” and “When should I seek help?”

TAKING NOTES: Many students consider more notes to be better notes. Faculty know that organized and thoughtful notes are actually better notes. For years, I’ve been explaining to students how to take organized, thoughtful (consolidated) notes. The task is intensive and time-consuming, but worthwhile. I’ve finally put together this “how to” sheet of instructions. [This is actually my 2nd approach. The first contained verbal explanations and citations from cognitive psychology and neuroscience… I doubt anyone read it.]

SEEKING HELP: In the art community, there’s a saying about completing a work of art “If you think you’re done, you’re done.” Students considering help should have a similar mantra: “If you think you need help, you do.”
Our semesters are ~4 months long. A good rule, in my classes, is for each month, students could raise their grades by one letter. So a student starting the semester with an F could earn an A by the end; A student with an F who comes to see me with only a month before the final could top out with a D.
[this, of course, depends on whether the student actually follows my advice and continues to visit with me regularly]

STUDYING: The four requirements for good studying are…
1) actively engage with the material (so writing rather than reading);
2) commit small chunks of time (5-30 minutes) every 2-3 days;
3) grade yourself
4) chunk, connect, and organize info (see Taking Notes)

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