UNITED STATES—As a student, it doesn’t matter what level you’re at, keeping up with your studies is vital. As a student, it would be wise to siphon out the bad habits and build upon the good habits. Believe it or not there are many myths surrounding learning and studying procedures. Students should be aware of the good and the bad habits you’ve heard about. Your grades depend on it!
Firstly, I cannot stress this enough, CRAMMING is never a good idea despite what many students may think. For learning in the long term cramming is your worst enemy. It is true that cramming the night before an exam can lead to a higher score on the exam the next day, but that knowledge quickly evaporates usually in the next few days. Cramming doesn’t help develop deep comprehension of a subject nor does it create the needed neural connections to understand the subject matter. Since many subjects expand upon the information already given it is best to comprehend the material and understand it as thoroughly as possible.
Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s examine some more of the bad habits and how to counter them with the good habits.
Re-reading your notes is not engaged learning. Sorry folks… It just isn’t. All it is, is just that, re-reading your notes. Learning in the long term requires that you actively engage in the material which involves creating a meaning from the text or notes and tying it to the lecture. Actively engaging also means that you can form your own examples with the material given. Studying isn’t highlighting and taking good notes, it’s a holistic process.
Some experts argue that the difference between students who learn at a slower rate and one that learns quickly is the way the student studies. Students that learn quickly make connections between ideas instead of spending much of their energy memorizing things. Students can become this type of learner by creating concept maps or diagrams that help explain the material.
And I hate to come back on the cramming thing again, but one of the main reasons why it doesn’t work is because it increases a student’s stress levels. Heightened stress levels influences your ability to concentrate. Researchers at UC Irvine found that stress even in the short-term can engage corticotropin-releasing hormones that disrupt your mind’s ability to create and store memories. Cramming also leads to a student’s lack up sleep which is a big factor in academic performance.
Instead of cramming space out your study sessions. Space out your study sessions over several short periods of time over the course of several days and weeks. It’s not always how long you study that will affect how you learn, but how you study. By doing this you will retain information longer and will develop a deeper comprehension of the material. That way you’re more likely to get that A on your next exam.