If you have been trying to work up the courage to go back to school by looking at various studying blogs and Pinterest boards, chances are good that you’ve been seeing a lot of highlighter imagery. (Not the makeup. The markers.) Indeed, you may have already stocked up on some aesthetically-pleasing, trendily-colored markers to use on those days when you know you need to study, but don’t really feel like doing anything hard.
But that’s the problem–highlighting, while sort of fun and potentially beautiful, is not actually a good way to study. In fact, most study experts think highlighting is a “waste of time,” since the inherent simplicity of the act doesn’t actually help your brain retain information. Instead, you have to follow some study methods that feel a little harder, but are more than worth it in the end. So, check out these studying methods that are much more effective than highlighting:
1. Use flash cards:
Flash cards take more effort than highlighting, but they’re super effective. This is because using flash cards is an “active” form of studying and makes it easier to retrieve information later on. Plus, you’ll be reviewing information when you make the flash cards, so you’ll get some extra studying time in just by creating them.
2. Practice tests:
Another way to increase your skills of recollection? Testing yourself. When you finish a particular section in a book, try to ask yourself some questions about it and write everything you remember down. This helps you retain knowledge better than you would if you just read or highlighted a section.
3. Studying in chunks:
Like, don’t try to read 200 pages at once and expect to retain everything. Instead, study in 30-minute increments, which will help keep the information feel fresh.
4. Try the Pomodoro method of studying:
If you have trouble with focusing for a long time, try the Pomodoro technique, which helps structure your time so you exert just enough energy on studying, but still gives you some free time to look forward to while you’re working.
5. Make your notes in class more effective:
If you have limited studying time, you should try and take advantage of your time in class by making your notes as clear and concise as they can be. One good way to do this is by using the Cornell Method, which involves making note of the main points of a lecture, then summarizing the idea at the bottom. This way, when you’re reviewing your notes, you’ll be able to have a clear takeaway of the lecture.
6. Rewrite your notes:
Another good way to recall information is by rewriting your notes. This will help you remember things that you forgot about once you left the lecture and pick up on some things that you need to study more.
7. Make a mind map:
If you have a certain concept that you need to master, or have to write an essay on a certain time period or term, a mind map is a great place to start. This helps you evaluate every part of the concept and pinpoint any areas where you have confusion and might need to spend some more time working on.
8. Make your notes funny:
This way, you’ll actually have fun taking notes. Plus, putting your own creative spin on information will help you remember it better.
9. Use mnemonic devices:
Mnemonic devices really work! The key is coming up with a sentence that you’ll actually remember–like the one above–which will help you keep track of your own information.
10. Try charting your notes:
See how clear and concise the information above is? Making a chart out of your notes is a great way to differentiate between two things that have a lot of similarities but are very important to keep distinct, like prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.
11. Cross-reference notes with your friends:
Obviously, don’t just copy your friends’ notes. This won’t benefit you, and your friends will likely grow to resent you for it. But what can be helpful is comparing your notes with a friend after class to see if they picked up on something that you missed and vice versa.
What do you think of these studying methods? Do you have any other ones to share? Let us know in the comments!