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How To Study Less: 4 Outside the Box Approaches to Learning

September 07, 2015 - Posted to Helpful tips and How-to's How To Study Less: 4 Outside the Box Approaches to Learning

How To Study Less: 4 Outside the Box Approaches to Learning

Have you noticed that studying more doesn't cause you to learn more? In fact, studying for long periods time often results in frustration and fatigue rather than increased knowledge. Have you also noticed that some students seem to never study at all, yet manage to retain information, and ace tests and quizzes?

Here's the deal; most of what you have been taught about studying is wrong. To drag out an overused phrase, you should be studying smarter, not studying harder. In order to do this, you must forget most of what you have been taught, and you must approach studying with an outside the box approach. These 4 approaches to learning and retaining information are a sure way to learn more in less time.

Stop Studying Everything

So many students waste time studying because they continue to read, study, take notes, and quiz themselves over concepts that they have already mastered. If this is you, stop doing that. You're wasting your time, and you are seriously decreasing the productivity of your study sessions.  When you begin a new chapter or unit in class, take some time to learn the objectives. These are essentially the learning goals for a particular unit, segment, or chapter. You can find the objectives in a variety of places.

  • The course syllabus
  • The professor will state the objectives in a lecture (don't skip class!) or in handouts
  • The objectives will be stated in the beginning of the unit or chapter in your textbook.

Once you have identified the objectives, sort them into categories.

  • Concepts that you have mastered completely
  • Concepts that you have fair knowledge of but need some review
  • Concepts that are somewhat familiar
  • Concepts that are completely unfamiliar

Don't waste your time studying concepts that you have mastered completely. Instead, continue through the list from the top down, then stop studying once you have mastered a subject.

Try a Few Memorization Techniques

Students who struggle to retain facts and figures often spend hours drilling themselves in an attempt to make the facts stick in their minds. Unfortunately, this effort is often fruitless. Rather than trying to force things to stick in your mind, try a few of these memorization tricks:

  • Engage your senses. If you are trying to memorize something read it, say it, write it, and draw it.
  • Listen to the same music each time you sit down to learn the same set of facts and figures. It will help you with recall.
  • Create flashcards with a hint on one side and a fact on the other side
  • Make simple rhymes to help with memorization

Take Advantage of the Open Book Test

Many tests and quizzes in college use the open book and open note format. If this is the case in any test you are taking, plan your studying around that. Organize your notes and use tabs so that you can find information quickly. Create a cross reference sheet that tells you the page and paragraph numbers of vital information in your text book. Think in terms of maximizing your ability to find information instead of committing that information to memory.

Recognize that Stress Impacts Recall and Understanding

It's three o'clock in the morning. You've been studying for six hours. You are quizzing yourself, and you keep getting the answers wrong. You're even messing up on the easy answers. You are exhausted and frustrated to the point of near tears. Your quiz is in a few hours. Are you doomed to fail? Absolutely not. Stop studying. You are at the point where you need sleep more than studying. You'll be surprised how much better your recall is after a few hours of sleep.

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