This article will show you how to cut down on study time, improve your memory, and raise your test scores, all through effective studying.
Time to Hit the Books
With the new semester well underway, you’ll undoubtedly need to start studying for tests and midterm exams. As you read through class notes, emails, outlines, and textbooks, you’ll notice two things: the amount of content to study seems to be greater than the amount of time available to study it, and it’s going to be easy to get overwhelmed if you actually try to do all of the assigned reading. – Right? How can you possibly be effective in studying all of this course material? How can you possibly read it all, let alone remember everything?
University courses are typically harder and more involved than the classes you took prior to college. This is intentional and can be very overwhelming. Plus, there’s more to life than just studying. As a college student, you are trying to work, study, attend class and experience all of the social aspects of life away at school. With all of these new priorities, how can you possibly fit it all in? What kind of an effect will that have on your grades if you skip some of the reading?
How the Brain Works
Your brain is a powerful thing. It can contain loads of information and can remember it, process it, and combine it with other knowledge to create new information. It’s incredibly complex. It’s also incredibly simple, and knowing how to properly use your brain for effective studying is as important as the actual studying.
Every time you learn something new, your brain makes a new neural pathway to that information in your brain. It uses this pathway like a road where neurons travel up and down it, relaying information. But you learn new things every day, in everything you do. How can you get your brain to remember what you want it to?
The brain remembers important information through repetition. The more your brain uses a neural pathway, the more efficient it is at using the information contained within it. So the trick then is to get your brain to use the “road” enough to be efficient with the information you’ve given it. This is why we recommend a technique called Preview, Read, Review.
Effective studying is about more than just reading. You need to ingrain the complete body of information into your brain and make it easy to remember. The Preview, Read, Review method will help you do exactly that.
When you crack open your textbook and turn to the assigned reading, you need to preview the entire passage. Read once through the content very quickly. Pay attention to section headings, concepts, formulas, anything that seems to be important. You are building the skeletal structure of the information.
On your second time through the content, just read it. You’re going to go through the entire passage for a second time. Because you will have already established the bones/structure of the information, now you will be learning more deeply, adding meat to the bones. This is where you will learn the details of the information and begin to ingrain it more deeply into your brain.
On your third time through the content, read through it very quickly. Pay attention to the important points and concepts, thinking about the details of it in your mind. During the “Review” stage of your studying, you will solidify your understanding of the concepts and begin processing that information as you read concepts, but think through the details. Now you’ve got the whole body of information – the whole package.
How to Use the Method
You can use the Preview, Read, Review method in all of your studying and be more effective. You don’t necessarily have to do each step in one single sitting. You can Preview and Read first and then a few days later, come back to the content and Review to make sure that you have it firmly in your brain.
This method is particularly good for test preparation. Create a study guide with all of the important information for the test all in one place. The night before the test, go through the first two steps of Preview and Read. Then, the next morning before the test, Review all of the content so that it’s fresh in your mind.
This is Going to Take Forever
Reading something three times is a great way to store information into your brain, but it can take a long time if you are not a fast reader. Get a reading and brain training tool like eyeQ to get your reading and comprehension up to where you can read through the content three times in less time than it takes others to read it once. Your studying will be much more effective, and you will do it in less time, with improved memory.
If you read fast enough, using the Preview, Read, Review method on your test questions is a very effective way to understand the question and spark that memory in your brain. Give it a try once you’ve gotten your reading speed up.