Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Studying the hard way?

A huge challenge for me during this year at uni (termed year 0, programmers will be pleased to know) is working out how best to study. Ironically the 'study skills' module has helped exactly 0% with this. 

I think that studying is a very personal thing. If, like me, you find that just reading and writing and going through exercises is very difficult and demotivating I have a few tips.

Replace the act of writing with the creation of something. Your own 'study system' if you will. For me I use a third party PDF reader (foxit) to speed read and annotate my lecture notes, copy the highlights onto a pad/whiteboard and summarise them and the formulae in aural notes that I then upload to www.meds-place.com/maths.php. The next day I listen back through, copy out all of the formulae and add as many as I can in the same fashion. After this ritual is performed I attempt example questions and then exam papers. 

This daily ritual can be split, shrunk, expanded as I need; depending on the events of the day. I also repeat this daily (if there's time) for maths revision. The priority being which exam is the closest, or which I feel weakest on. 

I can happily study 4-8+ hours straight in this fashion. Of course I take breaks at convenient intervals and make sure I get outside and get exercise. 

I also find that it helps to change my scenery sometimes. Considering all I need is my laptop, notepad and pencil case, this is really easy. 

Some other things I've discovered:

- Get Evernote and keep your notes there. You can access PDFs from smartphones in this way.
- Get a mini whiteboard to do practice questions on. You'll save a buttload of paper. The act of writing it down is way more useful than the act of reading them again. 
- Combine rote learning with understanding. If you are overwhelmed by something learn the formula/equations by rote, then read each day on it and attempt questions. This will lead you gently to the lightbulb moment.

and last but not least:
- Don't procrastinate too long on random blog posts...

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