- READING MY STUDY NOTES -- I put this first, but don't really think it's the most productive way to learn. Why? Reading on its own is passive (if you've ever read a page and then realized you had no idea what you'd just read, you know what I mean). To keep my mind from wandering, I always couple reading with the next few things.
- WHITEBOARDS -- To stay engaged in studying my notes and to make sure I'm really learning them, I quiz myself constantly. Because I remember things visually, the best way for me to do this is by writing them out.
- SCRAP PAPER -- When studying in the library, I use scrap paper in the same way I would a whiteboard.
- ACTIVE STUDYING -- ...And when I have neither a whiteboard nor scrap paper, I still practice "active" studying (as versus "passive" reading) by stopping after reading each section of my notes, covering it, and forcing myself to list in my head what I had just read. If I can't reiterate it to myself, I read it again and repeat the process until I can. I can't emphasize how important "active" studying is. Sometimes when I'm feeling lazy I convince myself that I can learn curled up with a textbook on the couch; really though, I know I'll retain only a fraction of what I would have had I used that time to study actively.
- FLASHCARDS -- Only rarely do I use flashcards (probably because I find the next thing on this list, folded paper, more convenient). I did find flashcards useful for organic chemistry, microorganisms, cranial nerves, and ECG rhythms. I looked at them on the bus and during breaks at my job. When I got bored of studying from my notes, I would do some flashcards to switch things up.
- FOLDED PAPER -- Folded paper is an alternative to flashcards that is cheaper (15 pages for 1 cent!) and more transportable (one sheet is the equivalent of a 50-card stack). I started using folded paper in Grade 6 to learn my weekly spelling list (my parents were probably happy I stopped pestering them to read the words out to me). I took a sheet of lined paper and creased it lengthwise, about two inches from the right edge. I used the same method to learn French vocabulary in high school, writing the English words on the left side of the page and the French words on the right beneath the flap.
- QUIZZES -- In high school and medical school I found that quiz questions were often repeated on unit tests or exams. As part of my studying I redid the quizzes repeatedly (covering the answers or writing the questions and answers on folded paper if it was a computer quiz) until I could answer all of the questions.
- PRACTICE QUESTIONS -- When available, I do as many practice questions as possible. In high school I downloaded old provincial exams and went through hundreds of questions. In medical school I went through question and answer books and online question banks.
one of many questions I got wrong
On getting organized to study:
- How To Make A Study Schedule
- Printable Minimalist 2015 Monthly Calendars
- How I Organize My Student Agenda
- The Student Organizer Binder
- Study Tips, Part 1: Making Study Notes (& a few pages of my medical school study notes)
- Study Tips, Part 2: Quizzing Yourself
- Study Tips, Part 3: Where To Study
- Study Tips, Part 4: Picture Mnemonics
- Study Tips, Part 5: When To Study
- Study Tips, Part 6: Abbreviating Powerpoints Or Textbooks Into Study Notes
- Study Tips, Part 7: Avoiding Distractions
How do you learn material? Do you have other ways of quizzing yourself?