When I was pursuing my honours in Accountancy and Finance, I had a very difficult time memorising certain topics but what I understood in my college year was that it is essential to develop an effective study technique to help retain the most information. So, given below are a few study methods that worked for me and might as well work for you.
The SQ3R Method
The SQ3R Method is a reading comprehensive method that stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review. This method was introduced by an American Education Professor Francis P. Robinson in his book, Effective Study, and the following are the steps involved:
- Survey – Start by skimming/scanning the topic instead of reading the entire chapter. Pay attention to the layout, graphs, tables, highlighted words/sentences etc. This only takes about 5-15 minutes but it provides the entire framework of the chapter.
- Question – After scanning through the chapter you should be able to question yourself about the content of the reading. For example you could ask yourself what the chapter is about or how does this information helps you and what you already know about this subject.
- Read – Now, you can begin reading the whole chapter and look for answers that you’ve just formulated. Write down the answers and explanations to previously asked questions. Take your time reading and re-read or give more time to the complicated parts and skip the unimportant ones.
- Recite – After reading try to recite from memory in the same manner as if you were to make someone understand the information. Summarise in your own words to conceptualise the material.
- Review – Once you’ve finished the chapter, review the material and quiz yourself. Follow step 3 and 4 if you’re unable to answer your questions.
The Retrieval Practice
This concept involves recreating something and remembering it at a later time. By practicing this method you are more likely to remember the information for a longer time as it makes the student think and recall the information. Use this method after you’ve studied the chapter and haven’t been able to revise it for a long time. Given below are a few ways to practice this method:
- Write down everything you remember from the lesson
- Do practise tests
- Quiz yourself
- Make your own questions
- Use flashcards
- You can mindmap on a piece of paper what you’ve learned
After practicing the retrieval method, check your answers from the book/notes and correct yourself wherever you’re wrong. This gives you feedback and insight on where you stand regarding the chapter. Then, a bit later repeat this method and watch yourself improve.
This method is also called “the distributed practice” which allows the students to review the material over a longer period of time instead of cramming all the information at once. To try this method, creating a study schedule can help you remember easily.
For example, plan short and frequent review sessions. This will help you recall what you’ve learned and join the dots to make new connections in your topic instead of trying to study everything at once.
Divide the material into topics and dedicate a particular time frame to each topic. Tackle those topics over the course of a few weeks:
- Review older material first.
- The point in this whole practice is to forget a little what you’ve learnt and then make the brain work to remember what was studied in the last session. This makes studying effective as the brain is challenged to recall past materials.
- In every study session write down the summary what you’ve learnt so that in the next session you can go through these summaries instead of reading the whole material again.
The Feynman Technique
This technique is a simple process containing four repeatable steps:
- Sit down with a topic that you want to study and write down the topic at the top of a sheet of paper.
- Then, explain the concept and pretend to teach someone else.
- Review what you wrote and identify the areas where you were wrong. Go back to your notes and figure out the correct answer.
- Lastly if there are any technical terms used in your writing, go back and rewrite these sections in a simpler language or terms.
If you’re a visual learner then this method is for you. Mind mapping is a graphical way to represent ideas and concepts. This method will help you to better analyse, comprehend and recall information easily. Get a blank sheet of paper and write down your topic in the center. Develop the related subtopics around the central topic, connecting each of them to the main topic.
Repeat the same process for the lower-level subtopics as well.
To conclude, I hope you find these techniques useful and are able to make your study time more effective. Make sure to try everything so that you know which technique is best for you and which one suits you better.
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