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Skills for Success

It isn’t the amount of studying that makes a successful student; it is the quality. Though you may need to increase the amount of time you dedicate to studying, the essential factor is what you do with what that time. Good study skills go hand in hand with time management and goal setting.

Here are 5 pointers to make the most out of the limited time you have to study:

  1. Do a textbook reconnaissance. Before you sit down to read a chapter, check it out. Look at the introduction. Read all of the captions for pictures and charts. Read the sentences where bold or italic words appear. Read the Chapter Review or Review Questions as provided. Each one of these techniques stimulates your prior knowledge and prepares you for the key concepts that will be covered in the reading/chapter.
  2. Make flashcards. Make traditional and online flashcards for key topics and vocabulary while you do the reading. Create them while they are fresh in your head and try to either add your own personal picture, wording, or example to make it meaningful to YOU. Google Online Flash Cards to find an app or site that can assist you in creating ones that simulate a game to make reviewing them more interesting.
  3. Use small chunks of time. Have 5 minutes before class starts? Don’t check your phone; instead, do a textbook reconnaissance to get ready for the lecture about to happen, or review some flashcards to keep previous information fresh and active.
  4. Don’t read a chapter all at once. When you get a reading assignment, break it up into manageable and reasonable chunks. Different subjects require more in-depth focus and understanding (including learning vocabulary, dates, names, etc.) Others are more philosophy or Big Idea based. Realistically estimate your reading speed and understanding/familiarity with the material and select small selections to read, recite, and review to make sure you have that ever-so-important comprehension in addition to recall. Ask yourself, “Do I know what I just read? Can I explain it to someone else?”
  5. Teach your homework to your pet, plant, friends, or family. A quote attributed to Ben Franklin states, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” When you read or study and you think you know the material, try to teach it. If you have a willing victim (participant) like a family member or friend, you can get real feedback as to your understanding. If you do not have someone available, talk to your dog, cat, fish, or plant. Simply trying to restate it in your own words and explain it reinforces what you know (or don’t know) and is actually another technique to rehearse the information for lasting learning.