Education and Learning Should Be Your Ticket to Financial Security!

Learning to learn or how to study, to retain information in high school or college is discussed.  A proven learning technique that explains how to retrieve most information from your memory is presented.

Most tests or exams want students to regurgitate information from their long-term memory.  I can assure you that this study technique incorporates every proven study suggestion.  It is a very easy process to master that allows you to study less as the exam date gets closer.

There is only one drawback that will likely eliminate many students.  Therefore, only serious students will embrace the technique.  That is a good thing though.  Those that embrace it will succeed.  Our society allows many freedoms - this is one of them. 

It requires being a student, that is, being very serious about learning and getting good grades.  All marginal students will not be successful and all serious students will get good grades and succeed.

It requires daily study (which does not take very long).  And it requires some planning, some organization, and a commitment.  It simplifies the way we study and learn.

Much to my surprise and disappointment, courses on how to study or how to learn are not taught in high school.  I believe students could benefit from such a course in high school or even earlier.

Theories on Learning to Learn are Plentiful!

All are helpful, but they don't get to the heart of the matter.  They emphasize the wrong things.  Our objective when learning is to store information in our long-term memory for a period of time.  Ideally until long after the test date. 

The methods of doing this are incorporated in the learning technique described below.  Every student eventually discovers that having an effective study process is much more important than how much time is spent studying.  This becomes extremely important for any student with limited time for studying.

Researchers recognize that knowing yourself is the first step in modifying your approach to studying.  For example, it is very important to know if you are a visual or auditory learner.  That is, do you learn better from visual cues or by listening.  When that has been determined, modify your study or learning methods to reflect that. 

Determining your preferred learning style is important as it is the way that information is best absorbed into your brain.  As you progress, in your education, this may become more important as courses get tougher, workloads increase, and fellow students get smarter (those less smart students dropout).  Yet, you still desire to get A's in every course.

You will need to determine, first, What Motivates You?  Is it getting good grades, pleasing your parents or spouse or teachers?  I can assure you that if you use the study technique below, you will get good grades and impress everyone and spend a lot less time studying. 

Yes, These Things Are Important!

Most of these things are part of the my study technique, but are not mentioned as part of the technique, because they are universally accepted as smart things to do when taking any course.  For example, not skipping class and arriving early for class is important.  Completing assignments on time and preparing for every class is also important.  Those things are rather obvious, if you are a serious student. 

Being a high school or college student, however, can be stressful - even more stressful if you're at the bottom of your class.  Others may be smarter than you, but following certain steps will allow you to get the same grade or even a better grade. 

Yes, you will need to set a schedule, take breaks from studying, reward yourself, select a quiet location for studying, and eliminate distractions(Turn off your cell phone.)  You will quickly learn what the optimum time of day to study works best for you.

I used the study technique described below, for example, while in my residency for a very difficult course - organic chemistry at the graduate school level.  I was able to get a good night's sleep the night before the exam while others were "cramming".  It is almost embarrassing to reveal how I and the other 30 students scored, but I will, to emphasize how well this technique worked.  I scored an 84 on the final exam and the nearest score to mine was a 29.  And many of these doctors were much brighter than I was. 

Here It Is!  Learning to Learn!

I was working, had a family and needed to customize my study methods.  Because of my very busy schedule, I needed to find a learning technique that would suit my needs and save study time.  I was in a desperate situation.  I really wish I would have come up with this study technique earlier in my education because it saved so much time and was very effective.

This method of learning requires some discipline and organizational skills.  Here is the learning technique that I came up with (it worked really well for me):

1.  Preview what is scheduled to be covered in class.  The best professors will tell you what they will discuss in the next class and you will not be at a disadvantage when you hear the material for the first time.

2.  Using a spiral bound notebook, take notes in class on the left page only.  Write down only the main points that you hear and can understand during the lecture.

3.  The day of each class, recopy your notes on the right page of the spiral notebook, filling in any points that are remembered from the class and from the textbook.  (Recopying notes did not take very much time.) 

Leave a large margin on the left side of the right page.  The wide margin allows room for cues that will help you to remember the subject matter later.  Recopying the notes also allows clarification of any details and you can fill in any significant points - as the subject may be a very difficult. 

For some people, including me, copying the class notes solidified the information (sometimes) in my long-term memory.

4.  When it is time to study for the exam, you will have a tremendous advantage.  You will be familiar with your notes, have legible notes, and learning cues (in the margin) and  one other very important advantage. 

You will not become bored when studying.  I believe the reason for the boredom is reviewing notes, which consists of material that has already been learned. 

5.  Place a colored dot next to the material that you do not know.  The next time you go through the notes, do the same thing with a different colored dot (only the material that you do not know receives a dot). 

6.  As the exam time gets closer, you will only need to review the material with the most recent colored dot.  The result is less material to review - and it is only the information that you did not know. 

Often, other students would prefer to review for a test with me - because of this preparation and organization. 

One other story about this study technique may interest you.  One of my part-time employees was taking a course in dental hygiene that was very difficult for her.  I explained this way of learning to her after her supervisor told her that she was about to be dismissed from the program.  Her name was Debbie.  She embraced the technique and two years later, graduated with lots of A's.

It worked for Debbie.  It might work for you, too, if you are disciplined enough.

Return to the top of Learning to Learn.

I strongly recommend reviewing What is Memory? and What is Memory - Part 2.