How to Study Smart and Study Less

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How to Study Smart and Study Less

If you find it hard to understand concepts and retain information even though you spend so many hours studying, learn how to study smart in less time. Online learning is a smart way to study at your own convenience.

For four decades, Professor Emeritus Marty Lobdell taught Psychology and College Study Skills at Pierce College in Washington State. He developed a technique to help students retain information and teach them to study smart and study less. Below are some strategies according to Prof. Lobdell.

#1. Set a study time

Make sure to include studying in your regular schedule. It will help you turn studying into a habit. Regular review will also help you retain information better.

#2. Set a dedicated studying space

Your environment greatly affects your behavior. Create a study area where you can place all your textbooks and materials to encourage studying. Avoid areas such as the bedroom, living room or dining area as these are not designed for studying and can bring distractions.

Some students prefer studying in a quiet space, while others listen to music. However, according to research by Stanford University, distractions may negatively affect a student’s ability to retain information. Research suggests that music does not help people with learning.

Learn from any study space with CFI’s online courses!

#3. Break study time into sessions

Have you ever tried studying for several hours without breaks but still end up not improving your grades? Lobdell suggests breaking the study time down into sessions of about 20 to 30 minutes each. After each session, take a five-minute break to do something that you enjoy. It can be singing your favorite song, eating snacks or talking to a friend.

After finishing all your study sessions, give yourself a treat. According to Lobdell, “things that are reinforced we tend to do more of. The things that are punished or ignored, we tend to do less of.

#4. Study actively

You may think that you already understand what you’ve read and studied the night before, but it can simply be recognition and not actual recollection of information. Recognition requires a trigger – something that you don’t always get during a test. Study actively by testing or quizzing yourself. It works since you need to retrieve information from your memory, which is not usually done when simply reviewing notes or reading textbooks.

Testing can be in the form of flashcards, taking online review quizzes or answering the questions at the end of a chapter. Research shows that testing is most effective when it involved free recall of learned content, compared to recognition tasks like multiple choice or ‘True or False’ questions. Research also shows that testing is beneficial for students from preschool up to professional education.

For aspiring financial analysts, CFI’s Building a Financial Model in Excel course includes many hands-on exercises that will help you test yourself.

#5. Take notes while in class

It goes beyond writing keywords to help you remember. Expand on your notes as soon as you can to boost your initial learning. If you don’t understand something, ask a classmate or even your instructor right after the class.

#6. Summarize or teach what you learn

Summarizing will help you know if you understand the topic. You can talk aloud or to someone else. Being able to teach someone a concept means you understand the concept well enough to explain it.

#7. Use the SQ3R method

One way to use your textbook effectively is through the SQ3R method. SQ3R stands for:

  • Survey: Scan the text and make note of the headers, graphs, bolded phrases, or anything else that pops out at you.
  • Question: Ask and write down questions about what you have surveyed. What do you know and what do you want to know?
  • Read: Read the text while keeping your questions in mind.
  • Recite: In your own words, repeat what you have just read to ensure you remember the text.
  • Review: Try to answer the questions you wrote down previously without using your own notes. Read over sections again that you do not fully understand.

#8. Use mnemonics

Acronyms, image associations, and coined sayings can also help you recall or retain information. An example of a popular mnemonic is the name ROY G. BIV, which represents the beginning letters of the colors of a rainbow.

Additional Resources

Corporate Finance Institute has a variety of courses and resources that can help you learn and advance your career! Study smart and check them out below:

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