It may seem like a simple statement, but the most important thing when studying for a degree or diploma is your ability to actually study. Being able to retain information and then recall it for exams is going to be one of the most critical skills you develop as a student and will be key to the success or failure of your time at university. By staying at The Fields you have already given yourself a head start as your lifestyle needs are all within reach, allowing you to focus on the important aspect of your studies. Here are five more tips to help you get the most from your study sessions.
Over the past few decades researchers have made large leaps forward in understanding how we remember things and now generally agree that information is usually encoded in our memory through four different methods: Visual encoding, which refers to how something looks, acoustic encoding or how something sounds, semantic encoding, what something means; and tactile encoding, which is how something feels.
Things that are exclusively acoustically encoded tend to only enter the short-term memory, so if for instance you are only listening to a lecture, you are unlikely to retain that information over the long term. Visual and tactile encoding on the other hand has the potential to become entered into our long-term memory so writing information down in colourful pens as you are hearing it will automatically make you much more likely to remember what you have heard. The real secret though is in semantic encoding. Truly understanding what is being spoken about is the easiest way to remember it in the long term, which is why many experts say that being able to teach something is the best way to remember it.
Combining visual, tactile and semantic encoding together when studying will make it stick in your mind for much longer than simply listening to it will.
When studying it can be tempting to leave everything to the week before your exam and then to “cram” everything at once. Studies show, however, that long term successful recall is far better when something is learnt over time – an effect called “spacing”. What this means is that you should ideally take time at the end of each week to go over your notes from that week’s classes. Read them carefully and create notes. Do this again at the end of each month and you will find that when it comes time to actually study for the exam, much of that information will already be encoded in your long-term memory.
Chunking is another proven memory technique that can help you recall large batches of information or lists. Essentially it refers to the process of taking individual pieces of information and grouping them into larger units. Doing this allows you to remember greater amounts of information than you usually would. For example, looking at this string of numbers it may seem impossible for you to remember them. 1 9 6 9 5 5 5 2 0 2 0 7 1 1. But look what happens when you group them together 1969 555 2020 711. Your brain now sees four numbers rather than 14 separate ones, making the whole thing easier to recall. According to neuroscientist Daniel Bor, author of The Ravenous Brain, chunking represents our ability to “hack” the limits of our memory.
Practically this technique will help you remember lists of items. For example, if you are going grocery shopping, group the items on your list into shared categories. It’s much easier to remember twenty items when you have them in the categories of toiletries, vegetables, dairy, grains, and meats.
The traditional image of studying is of someone locked up in a room all night desperately trying to get their entire textbook into their heads. Studying for hours at a time is seen as industrious and hardworking, but it doesn’t help. Human memory is best activated in short bursts of concentration followed by a break.
The Pomodoro method suggests doing focused work or study for 25 minutes before taking a short break, but each person is different. Don’t be afraid to experiment to get the balance right for you. Perhaps you want to study for 45 minutes and then take a half an hour break instead?
One of the key aspects of memory is the consolidation of that memory. While we don’t know a lot about the functions of sleep, researchers believe that one of its primary roles is to help us to consolidate our memories.
A 2016 study found that students who slept between their study sessions not only reduced the amount of practice needed by half but also ensured much better long-term retention. This proves that staying up all night before the big exam is a futile task, rather study hard, sleep, then wake up early the next day to study again if you want to be sure of retaining the information as you walk into the exam hall.
Of course, at The Fields both sleeping and studying are made that much easier with our range of apartments neatly appointed with everything you could need, the inclusion of free WiFi and the existence of the state-of-the-art student centre, which features a dedicated study area.
Don’t forget – we are currently running an amazing competition – JOIN THE FIELDS TODAY – where you can win an electricity voucher worth R500. Both existing and new residents can win this awesome prize.
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