The Journey Begins…
Choose a quiet study spot, cover small portions at a time, break often and go outside (exercise gets the blood flowing; blood delivers nutrients to your brain; you function more efficiently; everyone is happy). Also, sleeping after a study session helps to organize and encode the new information into your stimulated brain.
After you’ve studied a chapter or section, reward yourself with some enjoyable activity ( –only in the rare case that reviewing your illegible Physics 101 diagrams doesn’t make your heart sing irrepressible hymns to the heavens on its own). Of course, if you feel in the flow and want to continue investing in yourself (i.e. learning) for the greatest ROI, (gotta love those investment savvy French Kings), then by all means, continue onto the next related chapter. The key is to see the value in doing what you’re doing so that you’re naturally motived to continue, and you derive pleasure from the physical experience of learning physics. Well, something close to pleasure; whatever you can muster.
Mnemonics (memory devices):
Use songs, jingles, acronyms, weird (word) associations — anything to make the material stick. Unusual associations are more easily remembered, but don’t make your connection too far out in left field, or you won’t trigger what you were supposed to remember in the first place.
If you want to see some examples of well-known mnemonic phrases, try this mnemonics page for students in the health sciences, or this reference for Memory Techniques and Mnemonics from Mind ToolsTM.
These techniques are especially useful for cramming a lot of material into your short-term memory, but don’t just memorize; understand — synthesize your existing knowledge and the new. Make new synaptic connections. If you’re not sure whether or not you really understand the material, try the following:
Try explaining/teaching the material to someone else.
Answer “why?” or “for what function or purpose?” (if applicable)
Study in a relaxed atmosphere; your brain can process amazing amounts of information when it is cycling at the optimal frequency (7-12 Hz) for information input.
Tips for Multiple-Choice Tests:
1. Read the question and try to anticipate the answer before looking at the options below.
2. Read each question completely. There may be a more complete answer farther down on the list of options. Remember that you are not necessarily looking for the right answer, but for the answer that best satisfies the question. (That may sound confusing, but it’s not.)
3. Quickly eliminate the obviously wrong answers.
4. Be aware that answers to one question are often contained in another question or section of the test.
5. Options that contain sweeping generalizations (with words such as always, never, must, totally) are more likely to be incorrect.
6. Options that contain carefully qualified statements (with words such as often, perhaps, sometimes, generally, may) tend to be correct.
Tips for Essay Exams:
1. Plan. Read over the whole exam, decide which questions are easiest for you to answer, which carry the most weight, and how much time you will spend on each question.
2. Organize and make your points explicit (but not R-rated, unless your prof wants that sort of thing…). Write an outline of your main points, underline headings, and help the exam-marker understand your argument’s direction. If the prof isn’t sure why you’re mentioning J.S. Mill in your masterpiece on swimsuit design, you’re not going to get the marks.
3. Be relevent, and use jargon specific to the course. This involves walking the fine line between b.s. and the kind of b.s. that baffles brains. Don’t go overboard, but using a few technical phrases where appropriate demonstrates that your brain has been successfully indoctrinated into the hegemonic paradigm of university life. Well done!
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