It always seems like there’s one smart student in class who knows everything. Chances are that he or she is not actually a know-it-all, but has developed a note-taking and study strategy that works for her/ him. Although you cannot steal someone’s brain, you can learn to use the same methods to learn better and faster.
Homework and Studying
The most important thing about homework is to do it. It’s assigned to give you practice, not as a torture device. Schedule time every night to complete each problem assigned. This doesn’t mean you have to pull your hair out over concepts you can’t figure out. Circle all of the problems that you have a lot of trouble with and ask the teacher about them the next day. Identifying your own trouble areas for your teacher will make class and one-on-one instruction much more efficient.
If you’re studying for a test, don’t wait until the last minute. If it’s the start of the semester, do a little bit of study and review every night with your homework. Cramming will only get you so far, and it leads to bad habits like not getting enough sleep and trying to memorize ideas by rote. To really understand what you’re learning, try explaining it to another person, like a parent or another student. See if you can get the point across. If you can successfully teach it, you understand it and it’s locked in your memory.
Practice active note taking in class. You want to make sure that you’re getting everything the teacher says, but leave space in the margin for your own paraphrases, questions or even illustrations of the concept. Mark parts of the lecture that you didn’t understand so that you know what to focus on later. When you study, you’ll find that your own commentary can be more useful than the regular notes because you made the connections yourself.
Form a study group if you can. Everyone can share notes to make sure no one’s missing an important lesson, and by teaching and coaching each other, you’ll all learn better. Try copying someone else’s class notes, even if you have your own. Translating handwriting and different ways of wording the information will give your brain another way to remember the material. Work with classmates to make flashcards to quiz each other if you can. One of the best ways to study with classmates is to simply have a discussion about the subject. Try to apply mathematical concepts to real life or discuss if a literary concept can be found in video games or movies.
All of these tips can be applied to any subject. Find your own support network of students, tutors, teachers and parents so that you can always double check a solution or practice a concept. You’ll find that with others to keep you on track, you’ll cultivate these skills in no time!