Most students have heard about figuring out your learning style… visual, auditory, kinesthetic (learning by doing), etc. Most people, however, learn by way of a combination of styles. Yes, it is important to discern your primary learning style, but don’t sell the other styles – or yourself – short. Here are a few simple steps to tap into the most effective way to study any subject with your own unique “combination” style:
Do the assigned reading. This introduces you to concepts and purpose, and it is helpful for visual learners.
Go to class. Seriously… go to class. You will be introduced to the information once again, but this time through listening. Hmmm… haven’t you heard this before? Nope, that was your reading.
Take notes. The information goes in for the third time, as you write.
Complete your homework assignments. This is the fourth hit with the same information, but a different style. The act of applying information assists with information retention. You will find that you know a lot of the material since you have been exposed to it three times already. What you don’t know, you look up, and suddenly you are hit with the information a fifth time… and you haven’t even begun studying yet!
Test yourself… or have someone else test you. You’ll realize that you’ve already retained many of the key concepts… this means you can focus your studying on those items you haven’t quite gotten.
Repeat. This is where the studying actually begins. Your choice: re-write your notes, re-read your notes, choose additional chapter problems… whatever works best for you. Some people will choose to do all three. Others choose to re-read over and over until the information is basically memorized. No matter how you do it, the key here is repetition. You will probably find you already know most of the information because you have been exposed to it so many times.
Exercise. No joke. Exercise gets the blood moving through your body and supplies oxygen and nutrients to all of your systems, including your brain. It will help improve memory and aid in retention of concepts.
Test yourself again. You’ve pretty much got it down by now, don’t you?
Tips & Warnings
• Create pictures, acronyms, rhymes, associations, and other mnemonics to help you remember lists, key words, etc.
• Teach others the material… many people learn by teaching
• Take breaks and rest well… give your mind a little down time