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2 Important Strategies for Effective Studying

Every college student and high school student believes he or she has honed a set of highly effective, useful study skills. I used re-reading, lots of summarizing, note-taking (and outlining), and taking the little tests you would often find at the end of a chapter to help me remember the material I just read.

Nobody taught me how to study this way. It was just something I did through trial and error in trying and discarding multiple techniques. For instance, I tried highlighting, but it did little for me.

Of course, psychologists and other scientists have been testing effective study techniques now for decades. Being far more clever than I, they’ve actually run such techniques through the research ringer, and have come out with some effective study strategies.

Just last month, another group of researchers decided to take a look at all of that research, and boil down what we know about the most effective methods for studying. Here’s what they found.

4 Comments to
2 Important Strategies for Effective Studying

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  1. So I can read and highlight the important points and then quiz myself evenly over the term. I don’t pretend highlighting is studying just that it helps me.

  2. Glad to see science validate what experience has shown (me, at least)!

  3. Re-reading many times may not help with comprehension, unless you have problems concentrating, as many do. Re-reading a text many times does something more than comprehension, though–it’s called interpretation.

  4. I used highlighters to help middle schoolers “code” their reading (we started with non-fiction) to a good effect for discussion. I learned this technique through my tutor training with Classical Conversations (I also have a degree in English/education for what it’s worth). We start with “the blues” where the kids open the text they’ve read and highlighted, and we dive right in to the discussion with “Got any blues to share?” These were the things that they found interesting. Over the next few months we gradually added four other colors with deeper, specific connections. My discussions with the same age group the previous year using the same book were flat and superficial, but after adding this highlighting technique, the discussions became lively and very interactive with kids easily bouncing off each other. Later they used the personally coded text as a source for a final persuasive essay, easily finding quotes, people, topics,illustrations, figures of speech, comparisons, etc., by flipping through chapters and hunting for the colors they needed. This whole process blew me away. I’d love to see further research on this. I don’t suppose it could be replicated by public school, though, where books cannot be consumed.


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