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Study techniques

Instead of getting overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work, keep in mind that there are many simple yet effective things that you can do to improve upon your study methods and approach. Some of these techniques should make study a little bit less tedious:

  • Enjoy
    • If you are enjoying what you are learning it will not be such a burden. Corny as it sounds, try to get the most out of your learning, and relate what you are doing to your future academic and career goals.
    • Chemistry may be be exactly what you do not want to be studying but remember that you have to do it, so try to stay positive and focus on what you like and hopefully learning will be a little bit easier.
  • Reward yourself
    • Set yourself short term goals and then rewarding yourself for achieving them.
    • Short term goals could be: Open textbook. Read a page.
      • Reward: Allow yourself one song/a text to that lass from Physics/some more delicious and healthy carrot sticks. The amount you need to incentivise yourself will depend on your motivation.
    • For more medium term goals make plans of what you can do if you get all of your work done – a night out for a productive week, a cool movie for a productive day, etc.
  • When studying
    • Be creative! Use colours! Use humourous references to demonstrators in order to reinforce ideas. The sillier an idea is, the easier you will remember it!
    • Help each other out by letting others know what works for you. Some people are tempted to not share anything in HSFY, but remember that everyone has something to offer and if you share with them most of the time (99%) people are courteous enough to reciprocate.

Holistic understanding

Relationships

Knowing how things relate to one another is more important in some subjects like physiology, but is always important. Knowing how things relate to one another aids in your general understanding, and this is pretty much the best way to remember stuff.

Once you think you know something, the perfect test of your understanding arises in a study group – can you cohesively explain this idea to someone else? Can you answer their questions on the topic?

The bigger picture

It is a lot easier to say “think big” this than is done but a student demonstrating that they know how things link together is an exam marker’s dream!

For example, when you learn about a weird medical word for the first time you may want to look up its aetiology. By doing this you can relate it to where it is and how it works. To explain this further the word “epineurium” is from “epi” = on or above, and “neurium” = pertaining to nerves. From the name we can deduce that it is on or above the nerve, and this then tells us about the function of the epineurium. It wraps around the nerve as a supporting connective tissue. From here you would think ‘how does this relate to the other types or connective or nervous tissue I know about?’

Reflection

Reflective practice is a good idea, so stop and ask yourself at the end of the day; ‘was what I did today useful? What did I do that worked? What didn’t?’ If there are issues in your life which are stopping you from paying attention, then can you set aside some time to deal with those issues? Reflection is based around the idea that in order to learn, you need to think, not just do. Reflection is basically one way of training your approach to thinking, so that you cover ideas again, helping you to consolidate them. Hopefully, you will cover them in a different way, encouraging the proliferation of different neural pathways to the same concepts.

Some suggested ways of doing this are by trying to associate new ideas. By turning ideas over in your mind, you will hopefully be understanding what the concepts have in common and parts which are different. Keep the big picture in mind, and don’t just rote-learn.

Also, it sounds lame, but always think ‘how can this be tested?’ The people who write the tests for me are Chemists/Physicists/Doctors or Epidemiologists, and have a certain way of thinking. This means that they will be assessing you based on what they think is important about that job.

The more often you try to reflect upon ideas, the better you will become at it.

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