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Healthy Living: Study Skills

As we begin a new semester and a new academic year, lets review how to become the most successful students possible! There are always things that we can do to improve already honed study skills to be even better and learn even more from our educational resources. This months article will focus on learning and implementing proven study skills for students. I hope you will find it helpful.

The first method we will discuss is the self-reflective SQ4R method. This method has been around for a long time because it has been proven to be effective (Taraban et al., 2000). Lets review what it has to offer.

S = Survey When reading a textbook chapter, the first thing you should do

before anything else is to survey or scan the contents of the

chapter looking at the bold print topics and terms highlighted in the

margins.

Q =Question Next, begin to ask yourself specific questions about the topics that

are highlighted in the bold print.

R 1 = Read Next, as you read the paragraphs under each heading, look for the

answers to the questions you originally asked to help focus your

reading. Once done with a section, stopyou do not want to

overload your memory for the material you have read.

R 2 = Recite Next, after reading a few paragraphs, then recite or rehearse the

material that you have read. It is also a great idea to take notes on

what you can remember. That way, you can begin to see what material you are missing and need to review again.

R 3 = Reflect Next, while you are reading, be sure to self-reflect on the material. The more you can relate the material to yourself, the

more you are likely to learn.

R 4 = Review Finally, after you have finished a section or chapter of your

reading, skim over the section and look at the notes you made on it.

Then check your memory by reciting and quizzing yourself over the

material.

Next, we will explore how to take good and effective notes in class. It is important to keep a good written track of what your instructor is discussing so that you can reinforce your chapter material with the classroom interpretation of it, too. This requires you to become a good active listenerone who avoids distractions and actively searches for the main points of what is going on in the classroom.

Read your textbook chapter and any other assigned materials prior to attending class.

Constantly look for the main ideas of the topics discussed in class

Listen for special terms (e.g., The most important part is, or The three things you must remember are or As an example) your instructor may say that will alert you to important information that is to come.

Keep yourself engaged in the classroom by asking relevant questions and learning all you can about the topics discussed in class.

While taking notes, do not feel like you must produce a transcript of what is going on in the classroom. Instead, become an expert in synthesizing the most important information and writing down only the key points discussed. Of course, the most important part of effective note taking is to review your notes each day and review them again at the end of the week to keep the information fresh in your mind (Rowe, 2007).

In order to make the most use of your notes, it is important not to let them lay there gathering dust until test day arrives. Instead, you must be actively involved with what you have written. So, after class each day, be sure to read over your notes and add missing information. Make sure that your notes are organized and legible. Some students re-type them on their computer for easier reading and additional comprehension of the material. Also, be sure to associate new ideas to what you already know. And, finally, quiz yourself on your notes.

Next, we will look at how to improve your study habits. While successful students tend to work harder, they also tend to work more efficiently. Here are some suggestions that may help you to improve your class grades.

Attend class regularly

Study in a specific, familiar space with no distractions

Use spaced study sessions

Try mnemonics

Test yourself

Overlearn the material

Do not procrastinate!

Set up a weekly time schedule for your studying

Create a term schedule that lists all assignments and tests in all of your classes

Set daily study goals for each of your classes even if you dont have assignments due

Develop a personal interest in each of your classes

Finally, we will address some hints and suggestions of how you can become a better test taker. Since you will surely face different types of tests and assessments here at Big Sandy CTC throughout your classes, I am providing some ideas about how you can be most effective and successful with the different types of tests that await you.

1. Find out what type of test questions will be on the testessay, multiple choice, true false, matching, etc..

For essay exams, be sure to budget your time so that you will not

leave any questions unanswered; write focused and organized

answers, being careful to stick to the immediate test question topic;

and know the key terms in essay questions so that your essay

responses will be more accurate and precise. Some of these key

terms include: analyze, compare, contrast, define, describe,

discuss, evaluate, explain, interpret, justify, outline, prove, review,

summarize, and trace.

For multiple choice exams, be sure to take advantage of the cues that multiple choice questions provide. For example, absolute words such as always, never, and only tend to be incorrect. Also, be on the look-out for terms such as not, except, and but within the test questions so that you will not carelessly pick the wrong answer.

For true/false exams, be sure that every aspect of the question is true before you mark true. Frequently, questions that contain words like always, never and only are usually false whereas words like often, frequently, sometimes are usually true. Always be sure to read through the entire test to see if information contained in one question can help you answer another question.

For matching exams, be sure to review all of the terms and descriptions and then match the easiest ones first. Each time you have answered a question, be sure to cross out the term and its description to prevent you from using it again later on. Then, as you match the harder terms, you will have fewer descriptions to choose from which will increase the probability that you will pick the correct description.

2. Find a Study Buddy from class or at home who will help you to learn the material for the test and quiz you beforehand to be sure that you are on the right track.

3. Overlearn the material to make sure that you will retain it for a long time even after the test.

4. Use mnemonics to creatively remember sets of terms or concepts that you may have to recall for the test.

5. Try to associate the test material with ideas or experiences that you already know. That way, when you recall familiar things, you will also remember the new content for your test.

6. Use flash cards to help learn terms and concepts and be sure to review them frequently.

7. Create recall sheets and mind maps to help you review the most important concepts for the test.

8. Make use of the tutoring center on your campus for chapter and test material you do not understand.

While taking your tests, there are a few things that you can do to ensure a more successful and less stressful experience.

Be sure to write your name on the test

Take a deep breath to relax and slowly let it out while you are reviewing the test to see what types of questions are on it and what areas of information you will need to access to complete the test.

Start with the easiest questions first.

Be sure to carefully read each question so that you will not miss an easy item through your own carelessness.

If you feel your anxiety rising, then simply stop what you are doing and take a few more deep breaths and re-focus your efforts on the question at hand.

Make sure that you are keeping accurate account on your Scantron (if you are using one) so that you are marking your answers for the correct corresponding question.

Go over the test questions that you did not answer yet.

Use the process of elimination to mark out obviously irrelevant answers. This will increase your chances of selecting the correct answer.

Carefully review all of your answers.

Suggested References :

Coon amp; Mitterer (2011). Psychology: A Journey. (Fourth Edition). Wadsworth Group: Belmont, CA.

Gardner amp; Jewler (2001). Your College Experience: Strategies for Success. (Fourth edition). Wadsworth: Belmont, CA.

Gardner amp; Jewler (2006). Your College Experience: Strategies for Success. (Sixth edition). Wadsworth: Belmont, CA.

Rowe, B. (2007). College Awareness Guide: What Students Need to Know to Succeed in College. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Taraban, R., Rynearson, K., amp; Kerr, M. (2000). College students academic performance and self-reports of comprehension strategy use. Reading Psychology, 21 (4), 283-308.

Questions or Comments? Please contact: Sabra Jacobs, Professor of Psychology, Big Sandy Community and Technical College, 1 Bert T. Combs Drive, Prestonsburg, KY 41653; email sabra.jacobs@kctcs.edu ; call (606) 889-4778; or stop by my office Pike Building, room 209 f on the Prestonsburg Campus.