Dear Highlander: Struggling with Studying

Dear Highlander,
The semester’s only been on for a few weeks and I am super stressed. My resolution for 2017 was to get my grades up, but so far I haven’t been able to figure out how to accomplish this. I’m totally fine with classes where I have to figure things out, like when I have to plug stuff into equations, solve, etc. But I am totally doomed when it comes to subjects that require rote memorization. I have no idea how to memorize things and get them to ACTUALLY stick in my head for more than a few minutes. Please help, my GPA is in your hands.


Dear Mad-at-Memorizing,
Tests where you are expected to just vomit information can be a nightmare if memorizing isn’t your favorite thing. But not to worry! Hopefully we can find some techniques that might work for you.
It’ll be easier to find a technique that could work for you if you know what learning style you personally find most effective. If you feel that you are an auditory learner, you can try taping your lectures so that you can listen to them on repeat later (you can listen to the tapes passively if you want: try having the tapes running while you drive). You could also try recording yourself reading your notes, studying the notes till you’re comfortable, and then playing the recording while you sleep. Studying in groups where you can talk to others may also be helpful to you. Trying to put your notes to the tune of a song that you know may also work.
If you feel that you are a visual learner, try to study in a place where there is nothing even remotely eye-catching around to distract you. You should also study in a quiet place to avoid distractions. You can try color-coding your notes based on topic, so that similar topics are in the same color. You can keep a post-it with really important tidbits in a place that you see constantly so that you read it every time you past. Highlight important facts as you read. Don’t be afraid to draw pictures and diagrams to help you understand your notes better. Put a plastic cover on top of diagrams so that you can label them with an erasable marker over and over again.
If you are a tactile/kinesthetic learner (meaning you learn best through touch/movement), make sure that you study in a location where you have enough room to move around, because you’re going to need it. You can try acting out your notes. If it is possible for you to obtain physical models for whatever you’re studying in class – like 3D molecules for chemistry – get them. Use your finger as a guide as you read through your notes, and try to stand or move around as you read. If it’s possible for you to study and work out, go for it! Kill two birds with one stone. You can also try chewing a particular flavor of gum while you study, and chewing that flavor again when you actually take the exam.
Best of luck with your classes, I hope at least a couple of these techniques work for you!

A Fellow Highlander

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