Everyone has a different way of memorizing information! First you have to figure out if the teacher tests off of strictly lectures or if they dive into the book as well. Regardless of what they test off of, I am definitely a note card kind of girl. I would make flashcards and then memorize everything on them. This way I could make piles of the information I knew and the information I still needed help with. This was especially helpful with my pharmacology class. Some of those drugs can be difficult to memorize!
- Stick to the plan. Track all projects, deadlines, exams and other activities relating to work and/or school in a personal planner or a pocketbook calendar.
- Take notes. Place notes in outline format with headers, subheads and bullet points. Add items your lecturer refers to in the book.
- Create flashcards. A quick and easy way to quiz yourself right up until test day. Use flashcards for making a file of diseases/conditions and their treatments, listing signs and symptoms, diagnostic tests and interventions.
- Tape record. This is especially handy on "test review" days when instructors share what material is likely to appear on the exam. Remember to check with your instructor first!
- Compare notes. It's possible that your classmates have information you didn't catch and vice-versa.
- Use the textbook to your advantage. Outline each chapter, write down questions about concepts you don't understand and refer to other resources for extra help (i.e. the Internet, nursing journals, NCLEX review materials, etc.).
- Stay informed. Attending class is important. You never know if a question asked by a fellow classmate or a piece of information not found in the book might be found on the next exam.
- Ask questions. Get answers to questions raised in your book, ideas you're unclear on from lectures or clarify your notes.
- Stay in touch with your instructor. Visit during office hours, send an e-mail, talk by phone and sit in the front row during class whenever possible.
- Be exam prepared. Find out what the exam will cover and the exam format. Review points emphasized in class, questions in your study guides, past quizzes and end of chapter review sections.
METHODS OF STUDY
If studying alone sounds boring, difficult or lonely, think again. The advantage of studying on your own is that you can do it on your own time without having to plan around the schedules of others.
These are some tips for studying alone:
- Decide what to study. This means figuring out what you'll study, for how long and how many chapters, pages, problems or case studies you want to complete. Once you've set your "schedule," stick to it.
- Complete difficult tasks first. If you're a procrastinator, start with something simple and/or interesting to get you motivated and on task.
- Give yourself a break. Study for 50 minutes and then give yourself a 10 minute break. The break is a good time to stretch, relax or have a snack.
- Change scenery. Often, locking yourself up in your dorm or apartment makes it more difficult to study, especially if you're studying in a room that's less than neat. Get out and study at a coffee shop, the library or the park. You're likely to concentrate better and get more done.
- Getting tired or bored? Put down what you're doing and start on a different task or subject. Stop studying when you're no longer being productive.
- Keep your schedule practical, flexible and realistic. Make time for socializing, studying and sleeping. If you're someone with lots of time, develop good organizational skills. For those with an already busy schedule, re-establish your priorities so that you aren't trying to do too much in too little time.
- Repetition, repetition, repetition. It's true that practice makes perfect-read your notes several times over until you remember the important points.
- Get plenty of sleep. Pulling an all-nighter won't help you if you're mind turns to gelatin by the time you arrive for the exam. Instead, study until your usual bedtime, then plan to rise earlier than usual the next morning for last minute reviewing. You'll find that your mind will be fresher and ready for testing. And don't overcaffeinenate!
Studying in Groups
Don't forget, two heads are better than one. If you're not feeling too confident about a class or find it easier to learn by discussing study material, you may want join a study group. It's a great way to share ideas and teach each other, but it can also be unproductive if discussion departs from organic chemistry to who's dating whom. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your study group sessions:
- Three's Company. The ideal size of a study group is three. The smaller your study group, the more it will help you and members be more efficient, thorough and productive. This also places each member in the leader position.
- Set goals. Each person should walk into a study session with a list of questions or goals to accomplish for that session. This will help keep the group on target and from wavering off the subject.
- Group effort. Assign a portion of each chapter or assignment to a member of your group. From there, make up study questions for your portion and distribute copies to the others. And voila, you have your own practice exam.
- No substitutions. Group study is not a substitute for individual learning and understanding. The key to learning is not the actual answer but the process of critical thinking.