5 Essential Study Tips For College Students
What are the best study methods for college students? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Andrew Cohen, Founder & CEO, Brainscape, on Quora:
The “secret sauce” to fast, efficient learning (without late-night cramming and burn-out) lies in FIVE key study hacks that virtually NO college students actually use! I was guilty of ignoring this advice myself for way too long.
For me, the first year of college was like trying to keep my head above water in a category 5 hurricane. Later on, however, I became obsessed with how humans learn so I returned to Columbia University to complete a Masters Degree in education technology.
What I discovered then was the importance of the following five study hacks—which leverage the way your brain is wired to retain information—to learn more efficiently. Knowing these have empowered me to become a knowledge assassin in whichever subject I turn my attention to, whether it’s a new programming language, French, or guitar:
- Read the textbook chapter before class (and even try the end-of-chapter questions). Ugh, who actually does this, amirite? But seriously, the pre-existing knowledge will help you identify your knowledge gaps, take the right notes in class, and ask the right questions during the lecture or lesson. This is way better than just hoping you’ll magically absorb everything the instructor is saying by osmosis.
- Review all new information within 24 hours of initial exposure. Again, this seems crazy if your test isn’t still for several weeks. But if, after each class, you spend a little time reviewing your notes and textbook chapter, you’ll be making the most of the “fresh” knowledge so that it will “stick” and you won’t have to re-learn it later before the test or performance. You might even want to ….
- Make flashcards for the harder concepts and terminology you need to remember. Smart flashcards are not only way more convenient (and environmentally friendly) than paper flashcards, but apps like Brainscape have in-built spaced repetition algorithms that are designed to drill you on the concepts you struggle with the most, thereby helping you learn them a lot quicker. The sooner you turn your study materials into flashcards, the sooner you’ll be able to establish a regular study habit long before the test. And on that note ….
- Study a little bit every day. Even if your test isn’t for several weeks, start reviewing your condensed notes (or flashcards) a few minutes every day. This will deepen the fresh knowledge before it slips away. A daily study habit saves you HUGE amounts of “cram time” and anxiety later on.
- Treat your brain right. Finally, promoting good brain health is the best way to optimize your learning and yet it’s the most neglected. The right nutrition, hydration, exercise, sleep, and stress management are really pivotal to performing well and enjoying your study experience. An hour of studying with a healthy mind is worth two hours of studying in a fog.
I look forward to hearing what study tactics work for everyone else!
This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.