Have you ever found yourself in a zoned-out state while attempting to study? Perhaps you’ve breezed through a few pages in the textbook with no recollection of the material you just read. This is pretty common, even for the most experienced student.
If you can’t easily explain a concept to someone else, you may not understand it well enough. Studies cite that the average person retains 90% of what they learn when they teach the concept or immediately put it into practice. When teaching or applying a concept, you’ll quickly identify your areas of weakness. Revisit the material until you feel confident in your ability to explain it to someone else.
Studying is a part of life for any student. Whether you are new to the college scene or preparing for your NCLEX exam, use these study tips to learn and retain information throughout your student career and beyond.
Study smarter, not harder. Your mind is better focused during certain times of the day and this is different for every person. Understanding when you’re most alert will help you determine your optimal study times. Most importantly, choose a study time when it’s easiest for you to concentrate and memorize your topic. Don’t waste time studying when you are exhausted or distracted, as you’re more likely to waste time than learn anything.
Some topics require an extreme amount of focus to fully understand. Jumping from subject to subject will dilute your efforts and consequently limit your ability to retain the information. Avoid this habit at all costs. When studying, complete one thing at a time. Putting too many tasks on your plate will lead to you feeling overwhelmed.
Writing uses a different part of the brain than reading. This means that when you take the time to write down a concept during or after reviewing the material, you’ll cover the concept a second time. Both visual and auditory learners will find this helpful.
Most people struggle with focusing on uninteresting topics. To combat this, try to make the topic personal. One way to personalize a topic is to focus on how it will be applied in your career.
Pause. It’s difficult to fight the impulse of rushing through the material, but the outcome of this habit is limited retention. Rather than reading your study materials from beginning to end, absorb it in small chunks, pause to reflect and review the concepts, then move on. Be sure to take regular breaks so you do not lose interest or enthusiasm. A short change of scenery can help recharge your batteries and improve retention.
Mnemonics are tools that help us remember facts, large amounts of information, and retain information. They help stimulate memory through songs, pictures, acronyms, rhymes, or other devices. Nurses use mnemonics to help remember the variety of complex medical knowledge they need to know to properly and sufficiently take care of their patients.
Study groups can be priceless when you’re trying to learn about a difficult subject. Being able to bounce ideas and theories around and use your collective knowledge to solve problems is extremely beneficial. In addition, having a study group allows you to ask questions and view things from a perspective that you may not have thought about, which opens up new ways of learning about the same topic.
Texting, social media, calls, and other distractions that come from our electronic devices are some of the biggest barriers to staying focused when studying. Luckily, the fix is easy and totally within your control. Unplug yourself. Turn off the phone, silence it, or switch it to airplane mode. Stay attentive and create a productive learning environment.
Forming a new habit is all about repetition. Find a time and place where you know you do your best studying and build it into your schedule every day. Prioritize your time by listing the top things you need to accomplish in your day and block off the appropriate amount of time for each. Be ruthless with your schedule and hold yourself accountable to your timelines. This will help you in your healthcare career as well.