Work Smart not Hard*
No two people study the same way and there is little doubt that what works for one person may not work for another. However, there are some general techniques that seem to produce good results. No one would argue that every subject that you have to take is going to be so interesting that studying it is not work but pleasure. We can only wish.
Everyone is different and for some students, studying and being motivated to learn comes naturally. If you are reading this page, it's likely that you are not one of them, but don't despair, there is hope! So read on, think about what you read and prepare to become a successful student!
Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review
Key word in question dictates answer
Identify examiner’s expectation
Read directions – don’t panic
Select the best environment for you
Set your daily schedule
Take control of your time
What to do - when
SQ3R stands for survey, question, read, recite and review. This is one of the study strategies that's been around for awhile and is pretty much accepted as a useful way to approach the large amount of information that you need to process.
Once you've finished the entire chapter using the preceding steps, go back over all the questions from all the headings. See if you can still answer them. If not, look back and refresh your memory, then continue. Students waste so much time reading without thinking, with the end result that they don't learn anything. SQ3R will train your mind to learn.
If you go through all your past examination papers, you'll be able to find these key words in each question. You probably haven't noticed them much before because you didn't know how important they were and nobody pointed them out to you.
These key words are extremely important because they let you open the door to the way the answer is supposed to be given. Below you'll see what I mean when I talk about key words. I've even given you the meanings of some of these words and it's important that you become familiar with as many of these as possible.
The following are some of the most commonly used key words:
Compare - to examine in order to note the differences and similarities
Contrast - to set in opposition and show differences when compared
Criticize - to judge the merits and faults; analyze and evaluate; to find faults
Define - to state the precise meaning; to describe the basic qualities
Describe - to tell about in detail; picture verbally
Discuss - to investigate by argument giving reasons for and against
Evaluate - to ascertain or judge the value or worth of something
Explain - to make plain or comprehensible; to offer reasons for; account for
Illustrate - to clarify by use of example or comparison; to provide a text with explanatory or decorative pictures, photos or diagrams
Interpret - to clarify or elucidate; to expound the significance of; to translate; to offer an explanation; your own judgement may be required
Justify - to show adequate grounds for decisions; to demonstrate to be just, right or valid; to show to be well founded
Outline - to give a general description, plan or summary; to give the main points of; to summarize
Relate - to show how things are connected to each other and to show to what extent they are alike or affect each other
Review - to write or give a critical report on; to examine with an eye to criticism or correction
State - to present in brief, clear form
Summarize - to present in condensed form; concise
Trace - to ascertain the successive stages in the development of; to locate or discover a cause
Can you see that if you didn't know the exact meaning of one of these key words in an test question that your answer could be totally wrong? So make sure you understand these words and even practice interpreting them by putting together your own practice questions and trying to answer them.
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You're now sitting in the exam room and the examiner tells you to open your paper... what do you do next?
Test Taking Tip: For essay examinations, try the "memory dump" technique. If permitted, write down everything you've memorized - facts, names, dates, ideas, events and so on BEFORE you do anything else. Sometimes reading through the essay questions can distract you from what you've studied. The "memory dump" technique requires that you write down everything possible BEFORE you begin writing essay answers. This way, you are less likely to forget something important.
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If you want to be successful as a student, you need to be aware of time management and how to budget your time according to priorities. Every student has to live on 168 hours each week... no more, no less. This has to be one of the most important study skills you need to know.
Obviously there are a lot of things which take up our time which have nothing to do with studying. So the first step in effective time management is to decide how important school and college is in your life.
The importance of this will determine how much of those 168 hours you're going to make available for this part of your life. If sport or socializing is more important then you'll have less time available for studying!
So... focus on the future and the reason why you're studying in the first place and this might convince you to allocate more time to study.
A good way to work this out is to make a list of all the things you do in a week and how much time you spend on each activity.
As an example of the first day...
Do this for every day for a whole week.
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Here's a whole bunch of tips that will help you take control of your time:
* Dr. Bob Kizlik is the primary author of this content.