If you plan on going to college you’ll soon realize that in order to survive you are going to have to learn study skills. I was talking with a community college student the other day and one of the things he told me his instructors were preaching to him was that contrary to popular belief, college isn’t just a place to learn a pre defined set of skills like you would at a Trade School. What happens in college is that throughout your tour, different professors will present you with different challenges. By facing these challenges and pressing forward, you will be forced to learn to solve all kinds of different problems. When you get out in the working world, you will face these same kinds of issues.
One of the professors told my friend even if you don’t remember any facts from the courses you take while you’re in college, the ability to solve problems presented by the professors will stay with you, and when your boss presents you with research tasks and needs information you’ll be able to get it for them. There are different ways to get this research knowledge that will ensure you pass your classes with good grades and which will also help you become an asset in the field you wish to enter. Go over these different ideas and use them as necessary to pass your college classes.
Mnemonics are learning devices that help jog your memory and help you learn specific things. They are essentially associations that help you learn and comprehend specific things. They can either be words or maybe short poems which are related back to the data that you need to remember. This principle is based on the fact that arbitrary sequences based around boring subjects can be difficult to remember and retain, and that our psyche works better with personal, funny and spatial concepts that intrigue us.
It works more on the principal of using natural memory to retain boring concepts since natural memory is inherent within all of us. For example an acronym is a popular type of Mnemonic. For example if you needed to remember the initials for my name Brian Keith, that name might not be easy to remember unless you stored it in long term memory. But if you could remember the popular shoe British Knights, you could refer and think of that to remember my first and middle name. Another example of a Mnemonic is an association phrase. When I’m developing nested HTML tags I always think of the Mnemonic phrase, “The first tag on is the last tag off”. This has to do with which order the html tags go on a particular line of code. Hopefully this puts things in some perspective for you.
Gleam Cards can be great for putting ideas and concepts into your short term memory and studying for tests, mid terms and final exams. Gleam Cards are just ideas and concepts that might be presented on a test. You can use 3×5 or 5×7 cards for these. I perfer 3×5 cards but to each their own right? A popular way to structure these is to put the question on the front and the answer to that question on the rear of the card. What you want to do is flip through these cards and try to answer the question. When you get stuck just refer to the answer on the back of the card. At first you’ll be looking for the answers a lot. But after a while you should be able to answer all the questions on the Gleam Cards on your own without looking for the answers on the back. You want to keep using these cards until you can instantly answer the question without referring to the back of the cards.
Another test taking technique is simply rewriting your list of notes from class. When you rewrite your notes they will be neater and easier to read than what you wrote down in class. Then spend some time, maybe a couple hours to fixating on these notes until all the material appears extremely familiar. This way when you see test questions that are similar to what you studied chances are you’ll be able to pick the right answers through association. You can also transfer your notes in little chunks to Gleam Cards and use the same technique as I just mentioned above.
Also if you have a dedicated and responsive professor ask them to view the notes you rewrote and ask them if you are missing anything major that may be on the test. Tell them you took a few hours rewriting these and if they could just spend 5 minutes viewing them and giving their input it would be highly appreciated. I always end up with the professor giving me a few things extra to include in my notes when I do this and get a few extra questions right on the test as a result. It’s a great technique for squeezing a few extra points from your class.
Chances are if you are struggling with your class some of your fellow students are as well. Try to organize a group of fellow students to meet at one of your homes or a Starbucks to study together. Student support groups are helpful, if for no other reason than psychological. You are all there sharing your concerns and opinions about passing the class, and each of you will understand class concepts that the others don’t. Sometimes a serious student brain storming session will help everyone involved get a higher grade and allow all of you to add concepts to your notes you might have missed out on initially.
Sometimes being a student also means being a Private Detective. Bringing a tape recorder and recording all the class lectures isn’t a bad idea. You can play the tape over and over when you get home and jot down ideas you might have missed during the original class lecture. This will give you the opportunity to compile a list of “killer” notes that could easily put you above the rest of the class. I come from a Human Resources and one thing we are taught is potential is interesting but performance is everything. You may have that one classmate that seems naturally gifted and 15% smarter than the rest of the class. But I guarantee if you focus and tape record the class sessions