Don’t be frustrated with low grades. If you want to know how to study for exams and get good grades then this is the episode for you.
I’ve got 5 techniques that will help you get better grades, develop effective study skills, and I’ll give you one very important warning about something you may be doing that you have to stop! Find out how to improve your college study skills.
I like to put ideas in concept maps. Check out this concept map I created (instructors – feel free to use the map in class – I do).
How to Study Effectively
There are lots of sites giving you hints on how to improve your study skills (including this article called Study Skills 2010: Not What You Think They Are). And here is the latest research on the topic:
The 5 techniques and 1 warning on effective study skills:
- Retrieval practice: don’t just re-study – test yourself (and test yourself in the same way that you expect you will be tested).
- Test yourself again and again – not just once per term. This repeated testing will help solidify the meaning of what you’re studying in your brain
- Explain what you’re learning to yourself (or a patient friend). Get up and walk around the room or talk to yourself in the car (people will think you’re on the phone). Lecture yourself on the material you will be tested on.
- Distinctiveness: how is this term you’re learning different from some other idea? How is it similar? Figure out what is unique about the ideas you’re learning about.
- Personal: when you can, apply the ideas to your own life. You’ll remember it better that way.
- Warning: Beware of familiarity!! Just because you have read something before or heard it somewhere before doesn’t mean you understand it. The only way to know if you understand it is to….test yourself (start over at step 1 above!).
Click here to get these study techniques and lots more Psychology resources on the PsycExplorer app for iPhone and iPad!
Resources on Effective Studying
- Interview with Dr. Daniel Willingham on “learning Styles”
- Dr. Steven Chew, Samford University: How to Study Long and Hard and Still Fail…or How to Get the Most Out of Studying
- Hyde, T.S., & Jenkins, J.J. (1969). Differential effects of incidental tasks on the organization of recall of a list of highly associated words. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 82, 472-481.
- Level of Processing study: Shallow processing: “Does the word have the letter E?”. Deep processing: “Rate the word on pleasantness.” This forces you to think about the meaning of the word or to relate the word to your life, to other information you already know, or it asks you to create visual imagery.
- Intent to learn had no effect – it’s good, but if you really want to remember things, you’re going to have to work harder
- Deep processing resulted in better recall whether participants intended to learn the words or not
- Automaticity: practice something enough and it becomes automatic.
- Bottom line: you have to study actively!
The Journal News:
When it comes to study techniques, highlighters, mnemonics and re-reading just don’t make the grade, according to a report released by the Association for Psychological Science. In the report, Professor John Dunlosky of Kent State University and a team of psychological scientists reviewed the scientific evidence for 10 learning techniques commonly used by students.
Quizzing yourself and spreading out your studying over time (sorry, it’s the opposite of procrastination and cramming) can improve performance across many different kinds of tests, and their effectiveness has been repeatedly demonstrated for students of all ages, report Dunlosky et al.
Read the whole story: The Journal News
- More info on learning and mnemonics in episode 32 of The Psych Files podcast