How to Learn More in Less Time
Publication Year: 2003
THE STUDY SMART SERIES, designed for students from junior high school through lifelong learning programs, teaches skills for research and note-taking, provides exercises to improve grammar, and reveals secrets for putting these skills together in great essays.
Some students are not getting the grades they want, and others spend too much time working for good grades. Any student can find useful advice in Study Smarts: How to Learn More in Less Time. Study Smarts is the most complete and lively guide to streamlined studying. In a highly readable style, the authors eliminate the confusion and anxiety often felt about keeping up with course work.
Each chapter explains a different technique, and each chapter title is a nugget of advice that summarizes that technique. For example, “Eliminate interference from your environment;” or “Never study anything the same way twice.”
The writers explain how to set goals, take notes, review, cut reading time, make the most of class discussions, etc., all as efficiently as possible. Beyond refining basic study chores, there are novel tips for time management and cramming and special memory techniques. The authors also tell how to get outside help for special problems.
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
Don't Read This
Download PDF (73.5 KB)
We assume that you've picked up this book because you's like some help. You're not getting the grades you think you should, or you're spending too much time working for those grades. Or maybe both. ...
Part I: Learning Tips
1. Beg, Borrow, or Make a Course Outline
Download PDF (118.5 KB)
Before an A student cracks a book or walks into a classroom, he's usually got a pretty good idea of what the course is about. He's reread the description in the catalog, asked what the professor's like, tried to find out what's going to be expected of him. ...
2. Figure Out What the Goal Is
Download PDF (110.4 KB)
You probably haven't thought much about why. You're in school, so you take courses. You're in courses, so you go to classes, do some reading, and prepare some assignments. Sometimes you probably feel like you're dreaming it's all happening. ...
3. Learn the Special Vocabulary
Download PDF (105.3 KB)
Every course has its special vocabulary. You'll study faster if you isolate those words and learn what they mean. Sometimes a word you know well suddenly takes on a specific meaning, and for that course all other meanings are wrong. Watch for these words especially; they're tricky. (For exam-...
4. Skim Book Prefaces, Intros, and Such
Download PDF (56.1 KB)
The reason we headed our introduction "Don't Read This" was to try to get you to at least skim it. Like most authors, we put a lot of important information into those few paragraphs. ...
5. Cut Your Reading Time in Half
Download PDF (215.8 KB)
At the hub of most courses is the textbook or the set of required readings. Few teachers cover everything that's in the books in class, but most expect you to remember all their contents on tests. Interest helps your mind remember, but it's hard to work up enthusiasm when you've got twenty ...
6. Beware the Over-Underlined Textbook
Download PDF (111.3 KB)
Of course, if the book doesn't belong to you, you won't be underlining at all. But if you underline, do it sparingly. The best underlining is not going to help you remember as much as the worst note-taking. Your goal should be to be able to explain what's in a chapter, in the most stripped-down terms. ...
7. Be Class-Smart: Go Early, Stay Late
Download PDF (87.3 KB)
The first five minutes of class are the next-to-most important. Teachers rarely jump into a subject without first either reviewing enough to put today's words into perspective, or previewing, summarizing the day's thoughts to come. Some lecturers do both. Grab that opportunity for your own ...
8. Catch the Lecturer's Clues
Download PDF (134.4 KB)
As the lecturer speaks, your notes have to convert his words into the following: (1) Title: main idea, topic, thesis, rule, or principle. (It's possible for there to be several titles in one lecture, or one title spanning several consecutive lectures.) (2) Subordinate topics: the pieces that fit together to form the main idea. ...
9. Learn by Taking Organized Notes
Download PDF (381.7 KB)
This tip doesn't suggest that you should take notes in order to learn. It actually promises that you will learn just by taking notes. A recent study proved that people who took lecture notes did much better on a test given weeks later-even without reviewing their notes-than people who didn't take any notes....
10. Devise a Lecture Shorthand
Download PDF (91.3 KB)
If you don't have your own lecture shorthand, start to make up one. Don't try a large number of new abbreviations and symbols at once, or you'll end up with a set of hieroglyphics you won't be able to read. Add one or two new shortcuts a week, and note-taking is guaranteed to become less of a chore. ...
11. Get It Right the First Time
Download PDF (62.5 KB)
Have you ever tried to learn a new way of brushing your teeth? Studies show that it's a two-stage procedure-trying to forget the old way as well as learning the new way. Every once in a while, when you aren't thinking hard about brushing, that old devil pattern's going to creep back in. ...
12. Preview for Lectures, Prethink for Discussions and Seminars
Download PDF (79.4 KB)
Ten minutes of preparation before each hour of class time generally saves up to an hour of review time. How does it work? By turning the class time into a structured review. The only time you can't make it work for you is if your professor completely ignores the textbook and covers material you can't anticipate. ...
13. Work Through All Sample Problems
Download PDF (73.3 KB)
An author inserts a sample problem into a book to show how a particular theory works in actual practice. On a test, you'll be expected to know both the theory and the practice. You've probably discovered that the fastest way to do homework is to plug the question's numbers into the sample problem. But it's the worst way, because it won't help you ...
14. Skim and Pinpoint in Doing Most Outside Reading
Download PDF (147.4 KB)
Teachers assign outside reading to fill you in on important gaps not covered by the textbook, or to provide background that adds meaning to what the textbook says. Often, you're expected to write papers that show what you've learned. ...
15. If You Don't Understand, Get Help Fast
Download PDF (102.9 KB)
If you don't understand a fact or idea thoroughly once you've read it and it's been explained in class, or once the homework assignment on it has been discussed, look for help immediately. It's particularly crucial not to wait if the course is in math or a science, where each new bit of information is built on the step before it. If anyone step is ...
Part II: Remembering Tips
1. Train Your Brain to Think on Cue
Download PDF (153.1 KB)
As we said in our introduction, studying has two parts: learning and remembering. Learning is pinpointing the facts and ideas and understanding them. Remembering is putting them into long-term storage in your head. For high test grades, you need to do both parts. (It also helps to be test-wise, and the authors' companion book, Test-Taking Strategies, shows you how.)
2. Eliminate Brain Interference
Download PDF (158.2 KB)
The brain is like a radio. Some people come equipped with automatic frequency control. They're the kind who can study in the middle of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Most of us aren't that lucky. We can't turn a switch in our heads and automatically tune out interference. We've got to work hard to concentrate. Our best recourse is to eliminate...
3. Reinforce the Right Memories
Download PDF (84.1 KB)
If you have a really good memory, you're going to forget at least one-fourth of what you learn by the end of the day you learn it. If you're like most of us. count on forgetting a lot more than that. The only way to hold facts and thoughts in your head long enough to be tested on them is to keep reinforcing your impressions. ...
4. Roll with Your Alertness Cycles
Download PDF (97.0 KB)
The amount of attention you give a subject is as important as the amount of time you spend. The more alert you are while studying, the more you'll learn. Since alertness diminishes from the time we begin a task to the time we end it, divide your study schedule so that you tackle hard or boring subjects while you're at your most ...
5. Make Sleep Work for You
Download PDF (91.2 KB)
About a dozen years ago there was a rash of experiments in which people went to sleep with tape recorders plugged into their ears. The experimenters were out to prove that people could learn in their sleep. They failed. People can't learn anything new when they're asleep-or even while they're falling asleep. If you conk out ...
6. Space Out Your Practice Times
Download PDF (150.0 KB)
Since your subconscious pitches in to help reinforce your memory between study sessions while you're asleep and while you're doing other things, take advantage of it. Space out practice times so that, in between, your subconscious keeps working. It takes no extra effort at all to get the benefit of subconscious reinforcement. ...
7. Make Your Muscles Do the Remembering
Download PDF (65.0 KB)
Students spend countless hours trying to get facts into their heads, thinking that that's where all the remembering occurs. But our muscles really have better memories than our heads. We once watched while a 68-year-old man climbed on a bike for the first time after forty years and, ...
8. See and Say
Download PDF (78.9 KB)
Back in grade school, we all had show-and-tell. Besides being fun, teacher knew it helped us to remember. That's because it combines two big memory prods: sight and sound. If we can tie visual images to things we want to remember, we remember them better. (Try it: without looking back, see if you can remember what idea the image of old-man-on-the-...
9. Never Study Anything the Same Way Twice
Download PDF (138.6 KB)
We know that this tip is almost impossible to follow. Sooner or later, for anyone topic, you're going to run out of alternatives and have to repeat one of your study methods. But don't give up without a fight. Try to be as inventive as you can, because each different way you process an idea or fact makes a different association for it. Storage in your ...
10. Keep Each Study Session Short
Download PDF (88.0 KB)
For anyone course, do your studying in short takes. You'll remember more after four one-hour sessions distributed over four days than after one marathon six-hour stint. For textbook reading and note studying, your best time-span is about fifty minutes a course. If you're doing straight memorization, whether math formulas or a foreign language ...
11. Make Time for Study Breaks
Download PDF (51.0 KB)
The specialists say you'll do your most effective studying if you take a ten-minute break between subjects. It helps three ways. (1) It's a part of behavior modification. Pavlov's dogs remembered to respond on cue by being rewarded with tidbits. Think of each break as your reward for putting in fifty minutes of studying effort. ...
12. Keep Squeezing Your Notes
Download PDF (113.1 KB)
Once you've done the learning on your coursework-the part of your brainwork that enables you to understand it-the only thing that will help you remember it long enough to do well in the end-term exam is to keep reviewing it on the schedule we've suggested (see Remembering Tip 1). The trouble is, if you reviewed all your notes for every course at ...
13. Keep Memorizing to a Minimum
Download PDF (251.0 KB)
Most students memorize a great deal. The fact is, straight memorizing is the least dependable way to remember anything. When we learn something, we store it as a dent on the brain. To retrieve it-remember it-we've got to find a path to it. If we associate it with something else, that's one path. ...
14. Let Your Written Homework Do Your Reviewing
Download PDF (261.2 KB)
Written homework can be attacked in two ways. One is to race through it as fast as you can, with one eye on the clock and the other out the window. That's the way most of us have been doing it since grade school. But a few smart students have figured out - though nobody bothers to tell them - that written assignments are supposed to help a person review. If you work up some ...
15. Talk It Through with a Study Group
Download PDF (118.7 KB)
If you've read Donna Tartt's novel The Secret History or remember the old TV series The Paper Chase, you may wonder if learning and remembering could both be done best by forming a study group. The answer is yes, no, and maybe. It depends on the group, and on how much each person relies on the group, and for what. ...
16. Make Cramming Pay Off
Download PDF (189.3 KB)
There are two kinds of cramming. In the first kind, you begin-about three days before the big test-to start learning the coursework. You do all the reading, make a pile of notes, and try to memorize like crazy until you've got it all crammed into your brain. If you're a good crammer, everything you need to know sticks right at the top of your head, ...
Download PDF (218.6 KB)
Publication Year: 2003