How to study effectively

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Specializes in Cardio-Pulmonary; Med-Surg; Private Duty. Has 5 years experience.
I realized that I remember information better if I hear it, so what I do is read the book out loud to myself.

This reminded me of another thing I do to help cement the brain's pathways to the info. The more times and the more ways I "traverse the pathway" to the information, the stronger my ability to recall the "map" to the information when I need it.

First, as I'm reading the chapter, I take notes by hand. If we were given vocabulary words to know, I also write out those definitions as I come across each word in my chapter reading.

Later (usually the next day, depending on how much time I have to learn the info) I type up my notes, and if there's anything that I don't understand from my notes, I go back and read through that part of the chapter again.

When I take notes during lecture by hand, those later get added into my typed chapter notes, either tacked on to the end if they're supplemental info, or inserted into the appropriate section of my chapter notes.

This procedure works very well for me because it forces me to review all of the information several times. I read info, handwrite info, type info (which makes me read it again, from my handwritten notes), hear info in lecture, and type lecture info (which means I have to read my existing chapter notes in order to find where to insert the lecture notes).

The typing up notes helps me in another way, too -- I'm able to use formatting to organize or highlight certain concepts or terms. I'll use bullets, italics, bolding, underlining, indents, font sizes, etc., so that I'm not just creating yet another book to read. Instead, I end up with legible notes that are personalized for exactly what I need, and that I can scan quickly for a 'refresher' before class.

If there's a particular subject that I don't quite understand/remember, I'll write it out in more detail in my notes, so that each time I review the subject, I'm getting detailed info on the things that are harder for me; likewise, I use just the bare minimum of notes for things that I already have a firm grasp of. And having everything in a computer file makes it easy to change my notes at any time -- if I suddenly "get" a subject that was giving me a hard time earlier, I can reduce the font on all the descriptive stuff so that I know I don't have to review that part so hard anymore.

I also send all my notes to myself as an email attachment to my Gmail account. This way, I can pull up my notes from any computer at any time -- very helpful if I forget my notes one day, since I live 30 miles from campus!