Do you have trouble remembering your schoolwork? Do you get overwhelmed when you look at the material you need to study for an upcoming test? If this describes you, this article can help. Here are some practical techniques for studying and some relaxation techniques for when you study to help improve your memory and remember things better.
- take a deep breath and relax before you start, clear your mind
- find out what your preferred learning style is
- use your imagination
- combine rote rehearsal with elaborative rehearsal
- use your preferred learning style to combine the rote and elaborative rehearsal
- think about how you are doing with the studying
- panic when you see how much material you have
- try to do too much at once
- compare yourself to others in the class
- fret over your future
When you study, it is important to be free of distractions. When you take a deep breath (or several deep breaths), it relaxes your body. Notice if there are any distractions. It is a good idea to lose the cell phone while you are studying. Try not to wander to favorite games or web pages if you are studying online.
This is not as hard to do as it sounds (or looks, or feels). Everyone has a sense that they use more than the others. This is important because it will define your personal style for studying. If you are artistic, fashion oriented, and use your sight more than the others, then you are primarily visual. You can tell if you preferred worksheets and videos in school. If you are a musician, good speaker, and you learn best from lectures, then you are primarily auditory. If you enjoy sports, working out and learn from doing things, then you are primarily kinesthetic.
When you have to memorize a plethora of terms there are many ways that you can use your imagination. You can make up stories. For example, when learning biology you can make up a story that the Kreb’s and Calvin’s owned a cycle shop (Krebs Cycle and Calvin Cycle). Make up names for the abbreviations in photosynthesis: PGAL, Pretty Gal, PGA the golf tournament, and string them together for a story. The pretty gal purchased from the Gap PGAP pants for her husband to wear when he plays in the PGA Golf tournament. You can make up a story for anything that you are trying to remember.
Rote rehearsal is the way many people memorize. They recite the material repeatedly hoping it will eventually stick. Elaborative rehearsal is when you make the associations suggested in the third do above. The best way is to combine them. Say the material over a few times, or write it on paper if you are a visual learner, and make the imaginative associations.
The best way to explain this is to give an example. Suppose you just met a man named Peter Burns. He has red hair and is a fireman. His wife is named Sherry and he has two sons named Pat and Jake. If you are a visual learner, first you would imagine that his red hair is a fire and give him rabbit ears for Peter. Then, picture him at the fire squirting it from the truck and putting it out. After he finishes a woman comes up to him and gives him a nice tasty looking bottle of sherry. Then two boys come up and one is carrying a cat (Pat) and one is carrying a snake (Jake).
If you are an auditory learner you still picture the scene but with a different emphasis. You will say the names in your head a few times, out loud if you are alone (Rote rehearsal actually works well for auditory learners). Imagine the sounds of the hoses and the fire. Make the cat say meow and the snake hiss. Have his wife say, “Here is a bottle of sherry.”
If you are a kinesthetic learner imagine how hot the fire is, the feel of the fur on the cat and the feel of scales on the snake.
When you get aggravated and frustrated studying, it is because you are thinking about how you are doing (usually that you are not doing well). It is easy to fall into this trap, and when you think about how you are doing with the studying, you are not thinking about the material. When you catch yourself getting aggravated, just take a deep breath and return your focus to the material.
Although you have to look at all the material to plan how you are going to study, you don’t have to panic. If you tend to get anxious, then immediately start breaking it down into small steps. That will give you a sense of control and a game plan, which will make you more comfortable.
Some people like to wait until the night before a test and cram. While this works for a small segment of the population, it does not work for most people, especially if you tend to get anxious under pressure. Break the material into chunks and take one chunk each night. Start each successive night with a brief review of the old material, then learn the new.
This is similar to the first don’t above. Don’t think about your class rank. Just do your best, and focus on your own task at hand.
Young students in high school and college tend to think that everything they do will determine their entire future. Don’t think that your performance on any one test or even in one class will ruin your future if you fail. Many students are able to make up work and do very well after failing a test. It is OK to fail, as long as you keep working hard and not let one setback stop you from obtaining your goals.
This article provides you basic tools for remembering your schoolwork and any information. The example in the fifth do is very basic, however, if you practice these techniques you will be good to create more complex examples for whatever you are studying. Take deep breaths and don’t let anxiety or pressure get in the way of passing that next test.