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Effective study strategies

Published on October 22, 2018·Latest update at August 30, 2019
Studying and learning - Effective study strategies

Going to lectures is a great first step when getting a degree. However, if the exam comes up, it is still necessary to study the contents of the course in order to get a good grade. To memorize all the knowledge in the most efficient and effective way, there are a few strategies you could use. There isn’t such a thing as a very good or the best strategy. It differs per person which is the best strategy. This article explains some of the strategies you can use to prepare for your test or exam.


Repetition

The most simple method is to keep repeating the information, so you will remember it. There are several ways how you can do this. First, decide when you will repeat the information. If you're an early starter, then try to review the contents of the lecture immediately after, then the day after the lecture, after a week and after two weeks. This way, you will still have a general sense of what is discussed during the course.


Other ways of repeating the contents of the course can be done using certain study methods, such as re-reading the information or highlighting the important concepts and sentences in the text. Still, it is advisable to use active study methods to do so, for example by writing a summary or drawing mind maps. It is best to use a combination: try to prep for your exam by repeating the information regularly, highlighting the important parts, creating a summary of it and drawing mindmaps. This way, you are actively processing the information and you will be more likely to remember more.


Drawing mindmaps has another advantage: by linking concepts and theories to each other, you will become better at associating these to the information you already know. This will enhance your comprehension of the course contents, which in turn will help with answering questions on the exam.


Mnemonics

A third strategy to memorize information is to use mnemonics, especially if you need to remember difficult concepts and differentiate between these. For instance, if you want to remember the meaning of ‘longitude’ and ‘latitude’, you could link the letter ‘n’ in longitude to ‘the north’, you will remember it’s vertical. Because the letter ‘n’ isn’t in the word latitude, you won’t mix the meanings of the two words up.


Other examples are spelling rules like ‘I before E, except after C’. Such a rule is easy to remember because it rhymes and helps you remember how to spell words like 'receive' and 'believe'. Or, if you want to learn that you Stay Healthy by Activity, Drinking water, and Eating, you can memorize this by remembering SHADE. Try to make your own mnemonic if you have to struggle to remember something.


Mind palace

Perhaps you know the mind palace from Sherlock Holmes, and it is an actual study method! The mind palace technique is a very good way to remember information. A ‘mind palace', also known as the Method of Loci, is a strategy to use familiar locations to store information. This is how it works: you visualize a location that is very familiar to you, for example, your parent's house or your school. Then, in your mind, walk through the place. You can place items, theories, and terms in the house. On your exam, walk through the house in search of the information that can help to answer the question.

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