1 Study Strategies to be a Successful Student INTRODUCTION Test performance not only reflects how much one studied in the hours and days right before the test but also how well the person has been studying throughout the semester. This program suggests a variety of study strategies you can use from the first day of class to improve your test performance. You may find as you go through the program that you are practicing some of these skills routinely while there may be others that you're not practicing as regularly. As you go through this program, I would encourage you to identify one or two skills you would like to try to routinely incorporate into your study schedule. Let's begin the program by assessing how well you are already doing with your study skills. QUIZ 1. On the average, how many hours per week is it recommended that you study for each hour you spend in class? A. 1 hour B. 2 hours C. 3 hours There is no right answer to this question; however, it is generally recommended that you spend 2-3 hours outside of class for every hour you spend in class. For a 3 hour credit class, you are spending 2 1/2 hours in class every week. This would suggest that you should plan to spend 5 to 7 1/2 hours outside of class studying each week. Obviously, some classes will be more difficult than others and some will be less difficult. Study activities include reading the textbook, doing homework assignments, reviewing notes and studying for tests and quizzes. D. 4 hours
2 2. What strategy do you use for taking notes in your classes? A. Write everything the professor says B. Write notes in an outline form C. Write notes in a modified outline form D. Copy everything appearing on overheads One strategy that has proven to be very useful is the modified outline form, which will be explained later in this presentation. It's not possible to write everything the professor says because we speak at the rate of words per minute and can write only about 25 words per minute. While it may be useful to copy everything on overheads, those are probably only the main ideas and additional information will be needed as one studies for the test. 3. When do you start studying for your tests? A. The first day of class or the first day after a test B. Two weeks before a test C. A week before a test D. Two days before a test While you may not actually label what you are doing as studying for a test until a few days or a week before the test, everything you do from the first day of class or the first day after a test is helping you prepare for the next test. Class attendance, note taking, reviewing notes, completing homework assignments, reading the textbook and reviewing notes and assignments more intensely prior to the test all contribute to how you perform on the test. E. The night before a test STUDY STRATEGIES USED BY SUCCESSFUL STUDENTS Connect class work to long-range goals* Become active and involved in learning* Some students love to learn for the sake of learning but many more need to believe that what they are doing in class has a purpose in the future. If you are one of those students in this later group, try to apply what you learn in class to practical situations or your daily life. It is also important to make learning an active, as opposed to passive, process. Making a learning situation active requires that you actually process what you are hearing or reading. Put it into your own words to make the material more meaningful to you.
3 Identify preferred learning style* Different people have different learning styles. Dunn's classification of learning styles is visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile. The classification defined by Kolb and McCarthy identify learning styles as imaginative, analytic, common-sense and dynamic. It is important to try to identify your preferred learning style and use that as much as possible in your study process. This will increase your retention of the material. Practice patience with the learning process and your progress* Use multiple methods for learning* Think about what is learned from the "big picture" perspective* Learning takes time. Yes, there are students that seem to have a photographic memory and never need to study; but that is not true for most people. Each student must learn how long it takes them to learn material and allow adequate time for this learning to take place to be a successful student. We learn through repetition; however, that doesn't mean that we need to study only in one way. Students learn best by using a variety of strategies, including reviewing notes, making flashcards, completing homework problems, outlining chapters in the textbook or studying in groups. The methods used will vary depending on the class. It is important to learn not only the facts but to understand how these facts fit into the bigger picture. How do the facts you are learning apply to the chapter you are reading and the subject you are studying?
4 STRATEGIES FOR IMPROVING TEST PERFORMANCE Take good notes Review notes after each class Use SQ3R Get control of your time Begin reviewing a week before test Test yourself Practice good test taking strategies All of these strategies contribute to college success. While practicing one or two of the strategies will probably help improve your academic performance some, practicing all of these strategies from the first day of class will result in much better academic performance. HOW TO TAKE NOTES USING A MODIFIED OUTLINE What procedure is used to write a modified outline? What four techniques can be used for speeding up the writing process? Use modified outline (topic) Indent supporting details Separate points on separate lines Leave white space Leave a wide left margin Abbreviations Eliminate vowels Use word beginnings Use standard symbols Create your own abbreviations A modified outline, such as the one you see on the left half of this screen, is helpful to use as you take notes in classes. This requires leaving about two inches on the left side of your page for questions, either added during or after class, and taking notes on the right three quarters of the page. As you take notes, write the topic on the first line and then indent supporting details on subsequent lines, using a separate line for each point.
5 using a separate line for each point. While taking notes, it may be important to develop abbreviations to help you jot down more information. It doesn't matter what system you use for abbreviations but try to be consistent so when you look at your notes a few days after you've taken them, you still understand what you wrote. THE FORGETTING CURVE Amount you are likely to recall if you review. Amount you are likely to recall if you do not review. Reviewin notes af class eac day, or least be you go t bed, will help rec as the g shows. the end nine wee those wh reviewed their not within a recalled about 75 of the informat Those w did not review t notes we unable t recall ev 50% of informat after on day and a little m than 20%
6 recall ev 50% of informat after on day and a little m than 20% the informat after nin weeks. We learn through repetitio When yo review y notes, y may wan add additiona informat you reca from cla or add questions the marg to help y study th material later. Y may also find tha you don' understa some of things yo wrote so may wan ask the professo a friend the class get clarifica
7 clarifica SQ3R: A READING STUDY SYSTEM SURVEY QUESTION READ RECITE REVIEW Read the chapter title, introduction, learning objectives, summary and end of chapter questions. Also review bold face headings and subheadings, graphics, and italics throughout the chapter. This will provide an overview of the chapter and create a mental framework for understanding the chapter more thoroughly as you read. Prior to reading each section, turn each heading into one or more questions. It will be helpful if you write your questions down so you can refer to them as you move through this process. This step helps one's mind engage and concentrate and creates and active learning environment. As you read each section, look for answers to your questions. This fills in the information around the mental framework you have created in the previous steps. After you have finished reading a section and before moving on to the next section of the chapter, go back to your questions to see if you can answer them. If you can't, you may have missed the main ideas in that section and may want to read it again. If you can answer them, you're ready to move on to the next section, repeating the question, read and recite process for the new section of the chapter. This is the final step in your reading session. Again, review your questions too see if you can answer them. This step helps to refine your mental organization and begin to build your memory and understanding of the material. Following this model as your read chapters is likely to reduce the amount of time you will need to spend studying the chapters the week before the test because you have already begun to learn the material as you move through this process. TIME MANAGEMENT
8 We all have 168 hours each week but some people use this time more efficiently than others. As a student, there are many demands on your time. These include the usual daily living demands, such as sleeping, grooming, preparing and cleaning up meals, running errands and earning money. In addition to the hours required by these activities, being a full-time student will take as much time as a full-time job. People have had the experience of being so busy they don't get everything done, but not knowing where all the time went. The next page will give you an idea to how your time is used and identify areas you may want to adjust if you are finding that you don't have enough time for some essential activities, like studying. Where Does Time Go? It may seem like there aren't enough hours in the week to get everything done. That may be true or it may be that you are not using your time as efficiently as possible. To assess where your time goes, complete the inventory below. Be as honest with yourself as you can. Some of the items are done every day so those will need to be multiplied by 7 to arrive at a weekly total. One item may be done any number of times a week so you'll need to multiply that one by the number of times each week you do it. After you have responded to all the questions, you'll have an opportunity to see how many hours remain during the week for studying. Number of Hours per Day Number of Days per week Calculate. Number of hours per week On the average, how many hours do you sleep in each 24 hour period, including those afternoon naps? 7 multiply
9 afternoon naps? On the average, how many hours a day do you engage in grooming activities? On the average, how many hours a day do you spend on meals, including preparation and clean-up time? How much time do you spend commuting to and from campus and how many times do you do this during a week? Include the amount of time it takes to park and walk from your car or the bus stop to class. On the average, how many hours a day do you spend doing errands? 7 multiply 7 multiply 5 multiply 7 multiply On the average, how many hours do you spend each week doing cocurricular activities (student organizations, working out, church, etc.)? On the average, how many hours a week do you work at a job? How many hours do you spend in class each week? On the average, how many hours per week do you spend with friends, going out, watching TV, going to parties, etc? Add all of the hours you are spending each week engaged in daily living activities and school activities. There are 168 hours in a week. Now subtract your number of hours from 168 to find out how many hours remain for studying, since this is not one of the activities included above. ADJUSTING TIME DEMANDS
10 Most universities recommend that students plan to spend at least two hours outside of class for every hour spent in class. Therefore, if you are taking 15 credit hours, it is suggested that you spend at least 30 hours a week outside of class studying and doing assignments for classes. If you found by doing the questionnaire on the previous page that you have less than 30 hours a week available for studying, you may want to reconsider how you are spending your time so more can be made
11 want to reconsider how you are spending your time so more can be made available for studying. If you have more than 30 hours a week available for studying and are using your study time wisely but are not obtaining the grades you would like, you may wish to talk with a counselor about strategies you might implement to improve your grades. PREPARING FOR TESTS About a week before the test, develop a test preparation plan If you've practiced some or all of the techniques discussed previously, you are well on your way to being prepared for the test. Now it's important to decide how many hours you need to allocate for studying for this test and how you will break those hours up over the time you have prior to the test.
12 Review notes, problems, and textbook Concentrate on the main ideas using learning objectives, study questions and other chapter study aids to help Include time for reviewing your notes, homework problems and textbook chapters as well as other materials the professor may have provided. Begin each study period by studying different material than you studied first the previous time you studied. Also make sure you are not always studying the same material in the middle or at the end of your study period. The "primacy effect" suggests that we will best remember material studied first. The "recency effect" suggests that we will best remember material studied last. Therefore, always studying the same material in the middle of your study period suggests that you will be less likely to remember it. If test questions will be coming from the textbook as well as class lectures, use the study aides in the textbook chapters to guide you. These aids were created to highlight the ideas the author perceived to be the main points of the chapter. In many cases, your professor will probably focus on these ideas as well. SELF-TESTING Take practice test Use chapter headings, other chapter aids, textbook and class notes to develop your own test Professors may have old tests that you can use to test yourself on the material. If they do, this is an excellent way to prepare for the test. If you complete the practice test a day or two in advance of the test, you can focus on the material you missed on the practice test during the study time remaining prior to the test. If your professor doesn't have old tests available, consider making your own test by using the aids to the left. This will take time but the pay-off may be performing better on the test.
13 Create test-like conditions A critical part of self-testing is to take the test under test-like conditions. If you will not be able to use notes or your textbook during the test, don't use them when you take the practice test. Also try to do the practice test within the time limit you will have on the real test. In this way you get an idea whether or not you know the material well enough or whether you need to spend more time studying the material so you can recall it more quickly. USE TEST-TAKING STRATEGIES Arrive on Time Do a Memory Dump Read Directions Carefully Arriving on time will help to avoid the "brain pickers," other students who ask you a question right before the test to which you may or may not know the answer. This can create needless anxiety. If you believe there will be a discrete amount of information that you will most likely need to know on the test and your fear you may forget it, write it down on the test as soon as the test is distributed. Then if you need this information, you have it available and do not need to rely on your memory. It may be obvious what you are to do on some test questions but for others, there may be valuable information in the directions. Read the directions carefully to insure that you understand what you are being asked to do as you respond to the questions.
14 Budget Time Wisely Feeling Anxious; Practice Relaxation Quickly review the test before you begin and decide how much time you will spend on each part of the test. Pay attention to the weight of each section on your grade and make sure you allow enough time for sections that may take more time or are weighted more heavily in the final grade. It's never fun to arrive at the last page of the test only to find an essay question worth 25 percent of your grade with only a few minutes remaining to complete the test. A number of autogenic relaxation techniques can be useful during a test is you find that anxiety is interfering with your performance. Some anxiety is good because it helps us perform better but at some point, the anxiety can reduce performance. If you are unfamiliar with autogenic relaxation techniques, you may wish to talk with a counselor in your counseling center to find out more about these techniques. MORE TEST-TAKING STRATEGIES Look for Cues Answer All the Questions Do Not Change Answers Much could be said about this strategy. You can look for two answers that are similar, cues from other questions, grammatical correctness with the question as well as other strategies. Some professors give partial credit so it is important to answer all the questions, even if you are running out of time and can't answer them fully. Research has shown that it is best to go with our first instinct about which of the choices is the correct answer, unless you are very sure the answer you have chosen is wrong.
15 Use All the Time If you finish early, go back and review your answers to make sure you haven't skipped a question, or made careless mistakes as you responded to the questions. WHAT WORKS FOR YOU? Which study strategies have you tried for improving your grades? There are a variety of study strategies and no single strategy is likely to work best for all of your classes. Strategies might include taking notes on chapters in the textbook as you read them, reviewing your notes each day after class, reworking homework problems under test-like conditions, or testing yourself on the notes you have taken in class. Experimenting with various strategies that seem appropriate for different classes will help you decide which strategies work best for different types of classes. Your learning style will also have an impact on the study methods that help you learn most effectively. Some people prefer to study alone while others learn better in groups. Some people learn auditorily and benefit from talking aloud as they study. Some people are visual learners and need to see what they are learning. Think about how you learn best and try to include those learning methods in your study process as much as possible to enhance you learning.
16 learners and need to see what they are learning. Think about how you learn best and try to include those learning methods in your study process as much as possible to enhance you learning. Which strategy or combination of strategies have you used most effectively prepare for tests? Just as there are a variety of correct answers to the previous question, there are also a variety of strategies that are useful for preparing for tests. It is important to know if you will be taking a multiple choice, essay or problem solving test because this will have an impact on the way you study. Study strategies for multiple choice tests may include reviewing notes after class each day, carefully reading the textbook and taking notes as you read and making flashcards with specific information you are expected to learn. Studying for an essay exam might include reviewing notes daily, reading and reviewing the textbook, trying to understand the "big picture," and making sure you can support general ideas with specific points. Preparing for a problem solving test may involve reworking homework problems, completing extra problems, meeting with a friend to talk through when to apply different problem solving methods, and creating your own test or taking an old test from the professor under test-like conditions to assess whether you know the material well enough to complete the test within the time that will be allowed. There are many other strategies as well. Finding strategies that work for you and allowing adequate study time to implement the strategies for each class is the key.
17 for each class is the key. ACTION PLAN What one strategy are you willing to practice until your next test to see if it helps in you understanding of the material? Many college students arrive at college with inadequate study skills. Most students who come to college were good students in high school and many did not have to study very hard to get good grades. Finding that one's study skills are not working, for the first time in a student's academic career can be overwhelming. Pick one strategy at a time to practice. Work on it and when you become proficient, choose another skill to work on and improve. CONCLUSION This program has discussed a variety of study skills that can be used from the first day of class to improve one's study skills. These strategies include: Taking good notes; Reviewing notes after each class; Using SQ3R; Getting control of your time; Beginning to prepare for specific tests a week in advance; Incorporating self-testing into your study schedule; and Practicing good test taking strategies. Developing good study skills requires hard work. It is often easiest to focus on building skills in one area at a time, and before you know it, you have succeeded!
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