We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
~Pink Floyd – Another brick in the Wall~
These days I am kinda busy – you know, exams are close. I think everybody felt at least once that there are too many things to do and the time just isn’t enough, so one post about time management and good practices when studying should be useful.
Create a good environment! If you can go to library and stay there it is very good – there you have the motivation and the atmosphere that helps you concentrate better. Of course, there are cases when you can’t use that space – for example if you have something to talk you can’t do it there. Your room can be a good solution too, but here you have more temptations – the TV, the internet, the flowers you haven’t watered recently … If you can you can escape these temptations and you have all the materials you need you’ll gain some time by staying at home.
Take your own notes! When you finish reading a paragraph try to sum it up in 2-3 phrases. That should help you to keep in mind what you have learned and it’s useful when you revise your notes. When you’re doing that you also verify if you really understood what you read or you only have the impression of understanding it. Of course you can return and make additional notes. That and the practical applications are the active part of studying. It isn’t enough to recognize the truth, it’s necessary to practice it.
Study groups are a very good idea – 3 or 4 people is ideal. This idea has pluses and minuses – you can ask other people to explain what you don’t understand and you can fix your knowledge by answering other’s questions, but there is a dark side too. When you’re working with somebody else you tend to talk about anything except subject at hand. Chose carefully your study mates and impose some rules – discuss only when you have too, give answers as short as possible and don’t take brakes until you finish the chapter. That should work – and if it doesn’t, it’s better to give up the study groups.
Combine theoretical knowledge with practice! One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they forget to implement their knowledge. Exercises are more important than theory so I suggest to spend at least 60% of your time doing exercises. Another thing very very important is the “doing” part. If you understand the method to solve a problem it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can actually solve the exercise. If you have more time try to find the solution yourself, then you can compare it with what you have.
Of course, there are situations when you don’t have too many exercises to do; geography doesn’t have as many practical applications as physics. You can still train yourself by thinking of questions and trying to answer. Creating questions that cover all the information you have to know is important too. When you can do that and you can give the answer too you’re ready to pass the exam; you can concentrate on other subjects from now on.