10 Most Common Traps of Studying

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1.”I don’t know where to start”

Be proactive. Conduct some brainstorming to determine what must be done. Organize your work into small sections. Once this is done, determine what must be completed first. However, you must be realistic since it’s not possible to spend equal time on each section. Never miss a class since teachers often lecture about concepts that will be tested later. During class breaks, spend time reviewing notes and other study materials. To avoid burnout, schedule breaks during study sessions. Avoid cramming by studying a couple of hours each day weeks prior to a test. If necessary, increase study time as the test day nears.

2. “I’ve got too much to study and too little time”

Take some time to briefly review your notes, textbooks, and other study materials. Determine the main concepts that will show up on the test and identify what you need to better understand. Summarizing study materials makes it easier to determine what is important and saves time. However, summarizing notes and textbooks is not a method that should replace reading and in-depth review.

3. “This textbook is so dry, I can’t even stay awake reading it”

Studying can be boring, but if you get involved in what you’re studying, it will be easier retaining key information. After reviewing each section, identify what is important and underline important concepts and make personal notes. Go back and review these concepts and discuss them with other class members. Organize study groups. When you encounter a boring concept, avoid zoning out by reading actively.

4. “I read it. I understand it. But I just can’t remember it.”

Personalize the material you’re studying. Develop personal examples to better comprehend what you’re studying. Integrate the concepts you’re trying to learn with topics you fully understand. It’s easier to understand new concepts if you link them to concepts you must know for your future career. The following are effective methods to learn new concepts:

  • Chunking: This is an effective strategy to simplify complex topics. For example, if you’re learning about different body systems for a human anatomy class, (endocrine, respiratory, cardiovascular, reproductive, nervous, and digestive), begin by studying the first three systems and then study the remaining systems. This way you’re chunking information into two manageable sections.
  • Mnemonics: This is a strategy to associate new concepts with ones you’re already familiar with. If you are trying to memorize dates for a history test, you could associate numbers with important events in your life. It’s also effective to associate concepts with words that are pronounced similarly. Be sure to associate topics with words and concepts that will not be easily forgotten.

5. “I guess I understand it”

After studying, take time to determine whether you understand the concepts you’ve studied. Develop a list of questions after reading or reviewing each section. Especially develop questions for the concepts teachers emphasize during lectures. Also, determine how sections are related. Generate questions with section headings. For example, if you’re reviewing a section with the heading of “metabolic disorders,” make a list of questions about metabolic disorders, which could include: What causes these problems? How are they cured? What are common metabolic disorders?

6. “There’s too much to remember”

Organize the concepts you’re learning into outlines. It’s easier to learn new concepts when they’re effectively organized into manageable sections. Likewise, you’ll spend less time looking for the information you want to review. The following are tips for developing effective outlines:

  • Organize similarly related concepts into sections and categories
  • Develop an information map of related concepts. For example, if you were studying the causes of the Revolutionary War, begin by listing a series of main events. Next to each event, summarize why it was significant and how it related to subsequent events.

7. “I knew it a minute ago”

After you’ve summarized key concepts, take time to recall what you’ve studied. Attempt to answer questions you developed before summarizing these concepts. If you do not remember what you studied, re-summarize your notes or textbook. There is typically a correlation between time spent studying and memory retention. If you feel comfortable with the material, continue to study since it will decrease the likelihood that you’ll forget it. It’s not possible to study too much, but going about it unorganized will make any amount of time spent studying ineffective.

8. “But I like to study in bed”

Do not study in distracting settings. In fact, it’s helpful to study in settings that mimic the test-taking environment since you will more than likely better recall information on test day.

9. “Cramming before a test helps keep it fresh in my mind”

Cramming is an ineffective test preparation strategy. Begin studying as soon as possible. Begin studying for a test 2 hours a day a week prior to it. A couple days before the test, increase the time spent studying. It will be easier to remember what you’ve studied if you prepare in advance for a test.

10. “I’m going to stay up all night ’til I get this”

Do not put too much stress on your body. Be sure to schedule breaks during planned study sessions. Likewise, be sure to get enough sleep the night before a test. During scheduled breaks, do not dwell on school. It’s also helpful to exercise regularly and eat a nutritious meal just prior to the test.

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