Why use a strategic study system?
Study systems lend themselves to repetition, and when combined with an easy to implement strategy, a repeated practice can become a well honed good habit. Take advantage of one of these study strategies to create a system of your own that will allow you to quickly get in the mindset for studying, jumpstart your learning with familiar methods, and ease the anxiety of a heavy workload.
1. Set / Review / Recall
The idea behind this strategy is goal setting. Before you dive in, Set the key ideas or lessons from this study session that you aim to understand or accomplish. Then organize your studying into modules to address each one. Follow a pattern of Review followed by a short Recall exercise in which you test your absorption. You can add recall from previous modules as you go to create a cumulative confirmation of what you are studying.
2. Prepare for Review
This strategy takes into account the understanding that you will be reviewing this material again at a later date. The goal is to create study tools for a later time as you go through the material. For example, create a flashcard for each important definition you come across. By working on building this toolset now, you'll be able to capture what you find striking or difficult early on for review later. Also, when you do use those tools (e.g. flashcards, quiz sets, organizational lists or tables), use your gained understanding to edit and improve what you have created.
3. Note, then Annotate
Combine focused reading with interspersed recall with this study strategy. The exercise here is to keep a running list of brief notes (perhaps only a couple words) of important keywords or ideas. Once your list reaches five items or so, break from your reading to annotate your own notes with what you can recall about each listed item. At the end of your study session, check back for accuracy in your annotations and make any corrections or add further detail. At the end of it all, you will walk away with a great review sheet!
4. Just-In-Time Reading
This a proactive strategy that requires you to think ahead for ways to test your knowledge of the material you are going to study. The idea is to begin your study session with a challenge, whether it be a problem set or an advanced topic. You may have already had some familiarity of the topic, such as a previous lecture, but the goal is to study not by rote review alone but with the objective of solving a problem or filling in a gap in your knowledge. By engaging your text or lecture notes with the intention of finding a solution, you may find yourself more focused and attuned to your true level of understanding.
5. Recursive Recall
The idea behind this strategy is to integrate recall events of the material you've already covered throughout your study session. One way to approach this is to create a flashcard or question set for each block of content. Then as you move from one part of your material to the next break in between to quiz yourself to recall what you just learned. Repeat this throughout your study session so that you will have multiple passes over new information and avoid the feeling at the end of a study period that you forgot everything you just read!
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