Studying can be brutal whether you’re in college, high school, or studying for work. It’s easy to read text and realize after a few paragraphs or sentences that despite that you actually read it, the information didn’t make it to your brain because your mind wandered off. It’s also common for people to sit down for a study session and decide they’re going take a break at the hour mark. Then, they find they’re constantly looking at the clock to see when they get their break. Of course, breaks are important. It’s been proven that you retain more information when you take frequent breaks rather than cramming for a test. But, that does no good if you’re constantly counting down the time when you get one. This study strategy not only helps you retain information, but does so in a way that you can do it faster and efficiently.
Grab your materials and your highlighter. You really need to not worry about marking up your books. I know a lot of students don’t want to make marks in their books so they can sell them after the course. I can’t stress enough how important it is that you don’t think about this. You really need to use that highlighter.
With that said, start at the beginning of the text and start reading. Anything you come across that is important, highlight it. Don’t read to try to retain information right now. Just read and highlight until you finish a chapter. When you’re done, award yourself a 10-15 minute break. Make coffee, get a snack, start laundry, or whatever else.
Now go back to the beginning of the chapter. Everything that you’ve highlighted you want to transfer onto a flashcard. The flashcards need to be simple and not very detailed. Sometimes, you’ll need three or more flashcards for one topic. The goal is not to cram too much information on each card. On one side, there should only be 1-3 words and the backside has a definition or explanation of that concept. Even if you think you’ll remember the concept, put it on a flashcard anyway. Don’t study those right now, just go through making them. This is where you’ll take another break. Depending on how much time you have to study, you could actually stop here and come back to the material another time.
Your flashcards should contain all the information you need from the text. Take your flashcards and go through them. If you feel you’ve retained the information on both front and back, set it to the side. Only set it to the side if you’re 100% certain you will not forget that concept. Now, your pile is smaller. Take another break.
Now, go through the pile again and start weeding out more cards that you know. After each time you go through the pile, take a small break until you have memorized all the cards. But, you’re not done yet. Take that full pile and repeat the process of putting cards to the side that you know 100%. It’s important to set them aside because you don’t want to waste time studying material you’re already comfortable with. When you can go through the pile and confidently place every card to the side, you’re done studying!
I’d like to note that the process is really important. Don’t just take someone else’s flashcards. It’s important to go through the actual first and second steps. You must read the text. Also, most of the learning comes when you’re making the flashcards. So, don’t skip these important steps. Good luck!