There is no one way to study and if you are comfortable with the technique that you have adopted to study, then by all means keep doing that. However, this section will go through some of the ways you can study effectively. This is only a brief overview and relevant links to websites will be included (where possible) that will provide you with more information.
Believe it or not but the place where you study can have an impact on how you study. Here are some tips on how to set up an effective study space.
Tables and chairs – ensure that you have a good table and chair. Find a table that is not too high nor too low, but is at a height that you will be comfortable in. Likewise, find a chair that is not only comfortable (good padding) but also has good back support, because you don’t want to end up with a sore back after sitting for a period of time.
Posture – ensure that you adopt a good posture when you are sitting on your chair. Slouching forward while you are sitting will strain both your back and neck and you will end up being really sore.
Stand up periodically – sitting has been dubbed the new ‘smoking’ in the sense that sitting for long periods of time can do harm to your body. Make sure that you get up every now and again. You could set yourself a timer for 1 hour and when it goes off you can stand up for 10-15 minutes. Check out this article for more on this issue: https://theconversation.com/health-check-sitting-versus-standing-30145
Lighting – ensure that you have adequate lighting coming through to you when you are studying in your space. You want to ensure that you have enough natural light coming through during the day, and artificial light during the night. Bad lighting will give you eye strains, and this will decrease your ability to study effectively.
Equipment – make sure that all your equipment i.e. stationary, paper etc. are readily available to you on your desk or in your drawers.
Organisation – keep your desk organised so that you can see where things are and are able to get to them easily without having to search frantically for the thing you need. Officeworks has a variety of desk organiser equipment which will help you clean up your desk if it isn’t already. (Back to school sales are the best time to get this equipment!)
Study Timetable – stick up a study timetable on the wall where your desk is, to help you study and keep on task.
Remove distractions – don’t have things near you that will distract you e.g. your phone. Keep them in another room!
Avoid junk food – avoid eating junk food whilst you are studying at your desk. If you must eat then consider some healthier alternatives e.g. fruit, nuts, yoghurt etc. Junk food does not provide your brain with the necessary nutrients it needs to work properly.
Personalise your study space – this is your space for you to study. Make it yours! Put things that makes you happy and will motivate you to study. Check out the following websites for more information of study spaces: https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Study-Space and http://www.rasmussen.edu/student-life/blogs/college-life/study-environmenttips/
Consider also switching up where you study as well. Studying in different environment can also help you be more productive. However, make sure that you choose a place that is relatively quiet.
Other places where you can study include:
Senior School Centres at your school (if you school has one)
Local Public Libraries
Notes are an inherent part of the VCE culture, and is something which all students should aim to make during their VCE. However, there are effective and ineffective ways of making notes, and in this section, we are going to cover some of the ways you can make your notes.
Again, these are just suggestions for you and there is no one way to make notes.
You want to summarise and not repeat – in your notes you want to summarise the key points from a particular topic and not just copy out what is already in the textbook or what was said by your teacher/tutor.
Simplicity – you want your notes to be simple and to the point.
Make your notes throughout the year – don’t wait until the end of the year to make your notes. Get into the habit of summarising key content throughout the year as this will help you with your exam revision. Likewise, it will also help you with your SAC revision as making your notes will give you an opportunity to go over what you have learnt, and fill in any gaps in your knowledge of the particular topic.
Use colour – have colour in your notes. Use them to highlight key points.
Typed or handwritten notes? – this is the age-old debate: should you type up your notes or hand-write them? There is no one clear answer, and so the tip here is to do what is best and comfortable for you. If you prefer to type up your notes then go for it or if you want to hand write them then go for it.
Buying notes – there are companies such as LearnMate that sell notes written by tutors. The advice here is not to encourage you not to buy these notes, as they are another reference for you: however, you should not rely solely on these notes for your studies. Making your own notes will personalise them and this will help you in remembering the content, as the notes have been written by you. You can use other people’s notes to incorporate into your own notes, but don’t just rely on them on their own.
Use study design dot points as headings – if you are stuck on a way to structure your notes, use the dot points in the key knowledge section of the study design for your relevant subject as your headings. Your exam will be based on what is listed on the study design, and this is a good way to ensure that you learn everything that you need for the exam.
The following links give you some more tips on taking notes in class and making notes:
There is no doubt that in some subjects there is a lot of content to learn and given that there are no longer mid-year exams, you have to be familiar with a whole year’s worth of content, and be prepared for any questions that examiners could ask you. Topics can be pulled from any area of study so you need to be prepared. Other than making effective notes, there are some other ways to revise the content that you have learnt.
Flashcards – flashcards are a good way to help you learn content especially definitions. You can buy flashcards from Officeworks or make your own. You could also make online flashcards on websites such as Quizlet (saves paper!)
Consistent revision – spending 10-15 minutes go through what you have learnt will also help with your learning and understanding. It will ensure that your knowledge of the topic is fresh in your mind.
Sticky notes – if you are having trouble remembering certain concepts write them down on a sticky note (can be purchased from Officeworks) and stick them on a wall where you will constantly see them.
Mind maps – if you are a visual learner then mind maps may help you with your revision. You can draw out a mind map of the key concepts for a particular topic. You can do this by hand or even online!
Use study guides – there are plenty of study guides out there that summarise key concepts. If you are having trouble understanding a particular topic, these guides will offer you a starting point. They provide you with the foundations that you need to go further.
Practice, practice, practice – instead of just sitting there and reading your notes or the textbook start attempting some practice questions that will force you to apply what you have learnt. There are plenty of questions out there that have been written specifically for you to use and apply your knowledge.
Mnemonics – this is a memory technique that helps with information, e.g. in Chemistry to remember whether oxidation or reduction is a gain or loss of electrons we could use the mnemonic OIL RIG where OIL = oxidation is loss (of electrons) and RIG = reduction is gain (of electrons). Another common mnemonic is the use of the knuckles to remember the months of the year.
These are just some of the ways you can help yourself learn the content for the particular subject you are undertaking. There are many more other ways to learn content and this list is by no means exhaustive.
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