Studying habits are not necessarily taught in school. School teaches you the information you need to know, but reviewing and studying that information is largely left up to the student. This leads to difficulty in learning on the student’s part: there are many factors affecting their ability to review and understand concepts easily. Perhaps they function better with a teacher involved, or perhaps they’re simply too busy (or find concentration difficult) throughout the day.
For adult learners, this inability to study and learn can be quite frustrating. Adults value their time, as there’s often a job that needs accomplishing involved, making studying stressful or too time-consuming. If you’re an adult student looking for better ways to comprehend what it is you need to know, below are some tips to help you out.
Studying Isn’t Just Reading Books
Many people consider reading textbooks as the traditional way of studying. But the truth is, studying is a lot more complicated than just reading lines off of a book. It involves activating your brain and stimulating your focus. And to some people, this concentration isn’t achieved through reading books. Fortunately, there are many other viable ways of studying.
Watching informative and educational videos connected to the topic might be an effective alternative, especially for those whose learning style leans more on visual cues. Another might be listening to a read-aloud format of books, perfect for those who work throughout the day but would still like to listen to something educational. There are many alternatives to studying, not just by reading through scores of books. Try them out, and find out which method helps you learn best.
High-Frequency, Low-Intensity Studying Might Be Your Thing
Burnout is every student’s enemy. With all the text to read and information to process, it can feel very overwhelming and tiring by the time you finish it. Deadlines and overlapping exams don’t help either. To avoid cramming (which very rarely helps), you can study in shorter but more frequent intervals instead. Read or go through your notes for 25 minutes and then take a break and do something else for 5 minutes. This technique is called the “Pomodoro technique” and it might be able to help you especially if you have issues with focusing on something for longer periods.
Taking Down Notes is More Beneficial Than You Think
Writing down notes by hand is slowly being overtaken by taking screenshots of study materials, or by literally copying a presenter’s PowerPoint presentation. But there are a lot of considerable benefits that writing down notes by hand brings. The act of reading something and writing it down on paper helps you with memory retention as the idea stays in your head more. Add that to the fact that when we take down notes, we often use our own unique ways of abbreviating or shortening them.
This then leads us to mentally assigning the meanings and processing the information we write down, effectively studying the moment you’re writing it down. When going back through your notes, you’ll also find that since it’s written in such a personal way, you’ll be able to better remember and understand what’s been discussed. After all, it’s written by you.
Try out the Leitner System
Flashcards have long been part of the educational system. We learned about the alphabet through flashcards in kindergarten, we learned basic arithmetic and science through flashcards in elementary, and it’s something we should try doing even in our adult life. Through the Leitner system, flashcards take on a very effective and efficient approach.
There are many variations on how to approach the Leitner system, but they all involve flashcards (and sometimes boxes). It has the learner move correctly answered (or previously known information) flashcards forward, where it will take a while before it’s cycled back. Flashcards containing difficult information are then repeated (at a random interval) but with a longer timeframe. This allows the learner to better comprehend the difficult areas of what they’re learning, making it highly effective for those days before a crucial exam.
Find Out What Works for You
Ultimately, the best studying technique is the one that works for you and answers your needs. Everyone has different needs and requirements, and there are many factors in our life that affect that too. Someone whose health is compromised might need something intensive such as palliative care and treatment while they’re studying through school, someone might be working through two jobs while struggling to finish college.
Regardless of circumstance, what’s important is that you discover the technique that works best for you and is feasible to accomplish based on your situation.