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A Tutor's Tips on How to Study Smarter

By Maya B | Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Every once in a while, you might find yourself in quite a predicament when it comes to studying. Whether it’s not having enough time or just not knowing where to begin when it comes to studying, everyone has faced a few issues regarding academic preparation. That’s where these tips come in handy. Try these out to study smarter, not harder!

The Feynman Technique

In the Feynman Technique, you pick a concept and write everything you know about it onto a black piece of paper. Use simple words in your writing; any jargon will make it more complicated to understand the information.

Tip: Use different pen colors (color-coding) when writing out information to divide the information into different sections.

Go over your writing to make use you’ve omitted complex words. Read aloud the words you’ve written as though you were trying to explain the concept to a child. This is helpful because it makes sure you have a simple explanation. Additionally, trying to explain a concept to someone else helps you to learn the information even better. Repeat these steps to review a concept.

Teach Someone Else

If you have someone nearby to review a concept with (a parent/guardian, sibling, or friend that is studying with you), attempting to teach them information can be really effective. You can’t teach someone something you don’t understand well! Trying to explain something to another person can allow you to understand what you already know really well and where the gaps in your knowledge are. Review the information you aren’t able to explain well.

If you are by yourself or aren’t currently able to study with another person, explain the concept out loud to yourself. This can also be really effective. Just make sure you aren’t taking peeks at your notes while you are testing yourself:)

Space Out your Studying Sessions

This technique can help you study a little every day rather than learning all of the information in one night (cramming is usually ineffective!).

How this Technique Should be Used

Day 1: First exposure to the information.

Day 2: Spend time reviewing the material.

Day 3: Spend time reviewing the material.

One week after: Spend time reviewing the material.

Two weeks after: Spend time reviewing the material.

Tip: Spend at least 10 minutes during each of these times when reviewing.

When to Implement this Technique

Usually, small tests/quizzes don’t require this technique. However, overall semester/unit materials need to be reviewed consistently to make sure you don’t forget. This prevents stress if you’re studying last-minute for more high-stakes test (such as standardized exams).

The Leitner System

This technique is based upon using flashcards. Flashcards are usually the most-commonly used studying material among students. However, when used ineffectively, it may not be as useful for studying. The Leitner System allows students to efficiently study and understand exactly what they need to focus on for tests/quizzes.

How this Technique Should be Used

Keep 5 boxes and a set of flashcards. All flashcards will begin in Box 1. If you get the content of a card correct, put the card in the next box. On the other hand, if you get the incorrect answer, move the card to the previous box or leave it in Box 1 if it is currently there.

The box a flashcard is in will tell you how much to focus on the content of each flashcard. Use this schedule to understand how often to study the flashcards in each box:

All days - Box 1

Every other day - Box 2

After every four days - Box 3

After every nine days - Box 4

Every two weeks - Box 5

When to Implement this Technique

This technique is very versatile as it can be used to study for both high-stakes exams and smaller tests. Flashcards are used often and this technique can be easily done as it doesn’t require many materials (flashcards and any boxes/containers).

Final Words

Studying is a universal experience, whether you are studying for a test, college exam, job interview, or just wanting to learn something new. You may find the above techniques to be extremely useful when studying something new or just something you’ve forgotten. Everybody is different, so try out different combinations of the study techniques above to find the right fit for you. Happy learning!

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