Do you ever sit down for a study session, but can’t figure out how to dive in? That leaves a lot of us simply re-reading our notes over and over just hoping to retain as much as we can. We’ll be honest, that’s not the best way to tackle studying (and it leaves way too much room for zoning out). Check out what we recommend instead.
Practice quizzes often hold the title as the most effective method. Why? This ensures you’ll be able to recall the information, just like you’ll be doing on the exam. This is a great method for group study sessions, as you’ll already have some extra heads around to test you on the material. But if you’re studying solo? No worries. An app like Quizlet, or some old-fashioned flashcards, can make self-testing easier.
While just re-reading your notes might not be an effective study method, it can be if you ensure you’re actively paying attention. One way to do this is by summarizing the material in your own words after each section and chapter. If you can’t put what you read into your own words, that’s a good indicator that you need to go back and read again.
Rewrite & Outline.
Rewriting (or re-typing) your notes is another great memorization tactic. While you might easily zone out if you opt to just reread your notes, rewriting them forces you to pay attention to the material on the page. However, consider rewriting your notes into an outline format rather than just word-for-word. This takes it a step further by making you really think about the information and figure out just how it’s all related. This is a method of learning rather than simply memorizing — which is exactly what you want!
This method uniquely combines all the above-mentioned methods. SQ3R stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review. We explain how to execute these steps below:
Survey: Survey the overall structure of your study material and notice any headings, graphics, definitions, etc. This will help you gain a general understanding of what important information is relayed in the text.
Question: While surveying, note any questions that are addressed in the reading. For example, convert any definitions and headings into question format.
Read: Find the answers to the questions you noted by reading through your material. Since you surveyed the page ahead of time, you should find it easier tracking down these answers.
Recite: In your own words, recite the answers to the questions you found.
Review: Review your answers and summarize the whole lesson in your own words. This is also a good time to self-test yourself with a practice quiz.
This method is slightly different than the SQ3R Method. OK4R is an acronym for Overview, Key Ideas, Read, Recall, Reflect and Review.
Overview: Gain an overview of your study material by reading any headings, subheadings, introductions, and summaries.
Key Ideas: Scan the page for any key ideas. In your textbook, you might find insights in the opening paragraphs, any bolded information, definitions, bulleted sections, or visuals on the page.
Read: Read the information in its entirety. After the figuring out the overview and key ideas, this should feel easier to digest.
Recall: After reading, try to recall the information in your own words.
Reflect: Look back to the previous steps and think about how it’s all related. Does the information you read make sense when you apply it to the overview and key ideas you previously pulled? This will help you retain the information.
Review: Repeat the above steps as needed during later study sessions to keep your memory fresh.
Do you have your own study methods that we didn’t list? Share them in the comments.