While there are different methods of studying that suit different people there are some universal study habits all learners should avoid. These habits more often either hinder effective learning or are just not worth the time you invest in them. I’m a student like yourself and there was a time when these habits were a part of my study routine but over the years I’ve had to let them go to embrace more effective study techniques. Well let’s quit the chat and get to it:
Studying without a study Plan:
Here’s the main point: You cannot just jump out of your dorm room and get on your way to the library to go and ‘study’ !. Having a study plan will save you from frustration. You need to know exactly what you will be studying at a certain time. Bear in mind that the word study is ambiguous so when you make up your mind spontaneously to go and study, you will most likely end up wasting time doing something unproductive. Your study plan helps eliminate the ambiguity involved in studying during your study sessions. To learn more about making a study plan click here.
Not Knowing the Technique that works best for you:
Like I said earlier there are different methods that suit different people. What works for me may not work for you. A dangerous study habit is not knowing how to study in a way that suits you and effectively meets your needs. Some people do better jotting notes while studying, some work better with diagrams, colors and so on. When you are not using the technique that works best for you, you’ll most likely end up frustrated and unhappy while studying. Learn how to discover your technique here.
Reading Out Loud:
While reading out loud may seem beneficial to you in some cases, it is never a good form of reading. When you read a portion of a text out loud it barely makes it through your short term memory. This is why most people who practice this bad habit encounter serious problems with recalling what they studied days after they read it. Besides that, reading out loud in the midst of other people (even when you whisper) is a distraction to others. Breaking this sort of habit can be hard but the best way to do so is to replace it with a better study habit.
I’m sure we have all experienced the moment when we are just looking for the best place to study and happen to stumble upon some distractions along the way.
Or even the moment when we are studying but we just feel the need to search for something (even though more than 50% of the time we are not sure of what we are searching for). This is roaming, I am guilty of it and I think you’ve done it at some point too. Most times when we get distracted by something in our current environment, the environment is not at fault. In fact it is our minds that seek entertainment. Somewhere in our minds while studying we just can’t wait for the next “not-boring” event to occur in our lives. Let’s face it, Reading is boring and I’m sure we’d all rather keep looking for the ‘perfect place to read’ than to actually ‘read’.
Highlighting the text:
And yes, I am guilty of doing this in the past. While the use of colours can help you learn better (that is if colours are you technique), the use of highlighters to colour your text can hinder your ability to make inferences from what you are reading. That said, I think it is best to keep the use of highlights in your text at a very minimum level. I recommend a maximum of three highlights per page.
Lack of Preparation:
It is essential to have all your study tools ready before you begin a study session. This helps you keep your focus on the study material and gives you less chances to roam (*I’m just searching for a pencil* we tell ourselves). The lack of preparation can do a lot of damage to your study time. It could make you achieve a lot less than you had hoped to achieve.
Music and television while studying, seriously?
Music can be good but that depends on the type of music. Classical music and other types of music that have no lyrics and have calm acoustics (e.g the saxophone) could be beneficial to your study session. However listening to Rap, rock, or any other type of music that actually makes you more excited than normal hinders your study. I tried doing this just last semester and those study sessions were my most unproductive. Then yes, Television? Seriously, how do you intend to learn anything when your favourite show is on. It’s impossible to watch-study (if you mean to seriously study that is).
The point is: Music simulates a good portion of your brain and Television appeals to your visual senses a thousand times more than the book you’re trying to study. So when you try to “watch-study” or “listen-study” or even “watch-listen-study” at the same time, you’ll end up skipping the study part of it.
We all know this. Do not cram. Cramming beats the point of learning. When you cram you never truly learn or understand whatever you cram. Cramming a semester’s worth of course content the night before the exam will not only leave you frustrated, and sleep deprived (you may even loose a bolt or two from your brain), You are left with only a 50% chance of getting a good grade in that exam. Cramming never gets you a great grade, you need to actually understand what you are studying to get great grades.
Rote-Review unlike cramming is actually a study technique that an unfortunate large number of people employ. After you read, it is not advisable to try repeating all you have read exactly how you read it. You end up cracking you head up trying to memorize words verbatim from your book. Although memorizing is good for some exams, it is essential to understand what you have read first. There are better and safer alternatives to Rote-Reviewing.
This is an old time friend of ours we have been told time and again to become enemies with. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE is definitely a highlighted point in any long, boring “how to study ” speech we may have received in the past. Well that is just the point, do whatever you’ve planned to do at the time you’ve planned to do it. Study what you ought to study today if you want to reduce your troubles tomorrow. I know “not procrastinating” is not easy so I’ve put together a little article for you that could help you make the fact that you and procrastination are enemies official.
Not keeping track of progress:
This is very important, almost as important as actually studying. Ideally keeping track of your progress is part of studying. You should know exactly how good you are in certain courses. You should have a note (at least a mental one) in which you keep track of the topics you have mastered, the practice tests you have taken, your confidence level in specific topics and the topics you need to do some more work on. This is important for fulfilling and effective study.
if you have more suggestions, questions or just something you’d like to say, drop it as a comment.