Active studying means you have to be engaged with the content. Most students make the mistake of relying on passive review which involves reading and re-reading their notes and assignments. They assume the more times they read the content the more they will remember it. Make the extra effort to get it into your head!
Here are some suggestions for actively getting involved with your study notes, problems and exam material.
- Review your material, explain it (without looking) in your own words and out loud (if possible) and then check to see if you are correct
- If you can close your eyes and create an argument from scratch or stare at a blank sheet of paper and reproduce a solution without a mistake, then you have fully understood the concept
Teach the material to a classmate
- When you have to teach and explain a concept to someone else, you are actively understanding and interacting with the content. Have your classmate ask you questions for further explanation
- Construct a practice quiz for each chapter in your study guide
- Say the answers out loud, not in your head. Put a mark beside challenging problems. Go back and redo those that you did not get correct
- Go through textbooks, lab manuals and related CDs or web sites to find sample multiple choice or other types of questions
- Look for sample midterms and exams to also access practice questions. Different textbooks on the same subject may also have practice questions at the back of each chapter
- For courses with problem sets, practice solving the problems
- Upon solving the problems, try to explain an answer for each problem out loud! If you are just regurgitating memorized solutions, you aren't prepared to handle new problems on a test. Put a mark beside those problems that gave you trouble. Review the solutions for these questions. Follow this method until you finish a round with no marked problems
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