Get Creative about Studying
Did you ever wonder why some people who are very smart don’t do well in school?
Or how about people or kids who aren’t all that smart, but seem to get ahead and
do better in school and in life, while smarter people don’t! One answer to this
mystery is that the smart people may be people who don’t know how to study. Another
is that those who seemed to be less smart knew how to study!
I have known several remarkable people in my life who didn’t get ahead in life,
didn’t do the things they wanted to, couldn’t be all that they could be and didn’t
work up to their full potential, because, unfortunately, they did not know how to
study. For one thing, they may never have been taught. To all those people who feel
that way about themselves, to those to whom not knowing how to study has somehow
cheated them of all that should be theirs – this article, these ten tips, are dedicated.
Embrace the enemy – Most people associate study with boredom. They approach it unhappily
or, at least, as if they know it is going to be boring and tedious, dull, and miserable.
So right from the start you will have an edge if you embrace your old enemy – studying
- and say, “I’m going to have as much fun studying as possible. “
This will start the juices flowing and you’ll be thinking positive and headed in
the right direction. Ideas about how to study will come to you. You’ll amaze yourself
at the broadened horizons, the new methods you never would have thought of to help
yourself learn, if you simply have a better attitude about studying in the first
Think you’ll never get excited about studying? Fake it till you make it. Obviously,
you may not be as excited about studying as seeing a movie or going on a shopping
spree, but couldn’t you work in shopping for things to help you study as part of
the spree? Takes on a whole different light, doesn’t it? Is now the time for that
new recording device? New notebook? Get rid of your hatred and boredom – get psyched
for boring topics and you’ll breeze through easy ones, make more money in the long
run and earn self-respect and the respect of others because you have conquered the
material. It no longer looms large in front of you like Mt. Everest. You’ve made
it to the top!
Immersion is the key – You have lots of free time but may not realize it. Every
time you are standing in line at the registry of motor vehicles to renew your license,
you have free time to study. Every time you are driving in a car with a CD or cassette
deck, you have time to study. Every time you go to the bathroom, you have time to
study! Can you think of other times when you thought you didn’t have time, but with
a little imagination you can work studying in? You could study an astounding four
to ten times as much in the same amount of time you used to! Can’t find a cassette
or CD on the topic for the car? Make your own! Read from the textbook if you must.
Or read class notes into a tape recorder.
Skimming each assignment or important materials prior to reading – If you skim each
reading assignment before you read it, you will see and retain far more than you
think you would. You can then read for a better comprehension at a more relaxed
pace. Isn’t it better to go into the in-depth style of reading with some of the
stuff out of the way first?
Posting things you forget or key things to remember – That’s how you study in the
bathroom as mentioned in the immersion tip – Post a few three by five or larger
sized cards around the bathroom or tv room with some info you find hard to understand
or remember. You know you will be going to the bathroom at least once or twice a
day, so you will have worked in a few more minutes of study time. If you stare at
that thing just that much extra time you may be able to visualize it in your mind
when it comes time to take a test!
Don’t start at the beginning if you already have a middle or end in mind – Can’t
get that composition flowing because you don’t know where to begin? You have to
ask yourself – do you already know where to end? Then write the ending first! You
can work backwards. With your new mindset toward studying, you are now thinking
out of the box and aren’t held back by old methods or ”serial” thinking. Start at
the beginning, middle or end – whichever strikes you fancy. A middle means you’ve
probably got a handle on how to begin or end coming up shortly into mind. An end
means you have to tell how you arrived at it. A beginning suggests a follow-up.
That would be a middle. Two follow-ups after a beginning is usually an end! So don’t
get hung up on how to get started! Start anywhere! The rest will come.
Flash cards work – Rote works! One older method of study that has its merits, despite
the repetitious nature of it and the distinct possibility you may not retain the
information as well – is learning things by rote! You may not retain the material
as long, although some people do, but you will retain it long enough to finish the
course. Flashcards work for times when you must remember a lot of facts in a short
amount of time. For example, when you need to memorize 100 new words in French for
a test. If you know the concept of how to change from present tense to past tense,
that is one type of learning, but it won’t do you much good when its time to tell
the teacher how to say “Pierre was driving down the boulevard last Thursday.” Get
the idea? Good.
Really listen or just take notes in class – Did you ever see people as you look
around a classroom who are busily taking notes industriously in a notebook? Do you
think they retain all that information? Probably not! Of course, not. You aren’t
in class to scribble! Sometimes you can’t even read those scribblings later. Whereas
if you listen and then take down what you might forget or what seems important you
are that much better off. So listen carefully. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write
things down. In fact, you still do need to take notes, but it’s just that that shouldn’t
be the focus of classroom time. Write down things that you think will be on the
test, right down things the teacher emphasizes as very important. Write down things
you know you won’t remember. Write down things that aren’t in the textbook that
the teacher is teaching you because you will need to know that more than what is
in the textbook. You get the picture? But if you try to take down every word – you’ll
get hung up on being a recording secretary and not a student!
The teacher gives hints – Go up to the teacher’s desk after class, make an appointment
to see the teacher about your progress. This isn’t just because it will be harder
to give an F because of your effort. More than just getting the grade, if you really
don’t understand something, he or she will probably take time to give you a bit
of an extra lesson on that. Besides, teachers respect effort. They know that not
every subject is easy to grasp and that people have varying levels of aptitude for
various subjects and disciplines involving various skills sets. You might not get
an A for effort but you might get many more points toward a better grade if you
use interaction with the teacher as a study habit.
Don’t get hung up on the medium – The teacher has read such things as the Cliff
and Monarch notes, too. Teachers know students cramming may resort to reading these
instead of original versions or assigned versions of texts and literature. One of
the stupidest things you can do is use language directly from these synopses. The
teacher may recognize it immediately. So this tip isn’t about shortcuts. It’s about
a passion for learning! Don’t be hemmed in by the medium! Who says you have to learn
from a book? Go to the movies, rent a movie, find out of if there are library materials
to borrow, too. Audio cassettes, CDs and DVDs are often available at the library,
even on some fairly technical subjects. Still, the most important thing to point
out here is that if you use your time creatively you may ingest all the material
flung at you. As an example, I remember one year in college taking a required course
in Shakespeare. How was I going to remember all those characters and pages of quotes?
So in addition to slogging through the reading, I took out recordings of famous
actors reading their parts! That listening helped me “hear” the material as well
as just read it. When the time came to take the test, I had a distinct edge over
those who had only read the material.
Be a beginner always – When life gets complex, go back to the basics. Go back to
8th grade books then reread new works; become a beginner. If you can’t understand
something in one textbook or workbook – try another! And don’t be afraid to learn
the concept from a book ordinarily used in another grade level.
These are but a few of the ways you can get creative about studying and not only
learn more comfortably and better, but usually achieve better grades, too! Good
luck and get creative!
For Further Reading