Tips on How to Study

Alan Strathman
Department of Psychological Sciences
University of Missouri-Columbia

Learning Information

Basically, there are two kinds of memory: Short-term memory (STM) and long- term memory (LTM). It is important to put information you want to remember into LTM, not just STM. Here are some tips:

1. Distribute learning over time. Attempting to cram information into your brain in a short period of time is likely to result in forgetting of a great deal of information.

2. Learn information even better than you think you need to. Even after you have the information learned, go over it one or two more times.

3. Test yourself. Generate and answer questions on the information you are trying to learn. Generate some questions (they might be headings of lists, names of theories, etc.), study the information, then put away your notes and take the test you made up. Go back to your notes and see which questions you answered correctly. If you answered some questions incorrectly, go back to your notes and relearn that information. Try to predict what questions will be on the exam and know the answers to those questions.

4. Make the information meaningful to yourself -- Overview first, then organize sections of the material, then learn specific parts. Don't just know a piece of information, know why it is important, know how it relates to other pieces of information.

Using The SQ4R Method can help to provide this kind of organization. SQ4R stands for:
S = Survey
Q = Question
R = Read
R = Recite
R = Review
R = wRiting

5. Personalize information. Come up with examples from your own life which demonstrate various theories, and principles. Know why a particular example can be explained by a theory or principle.

6. Use Mnemonic Devices -- if you are having trouble learning or remembering some information, use memory devices to help you remember. How do you remember the musical scale?

Improving Study Methods

1. Minimize distractions

In sum, make the study surroundings as similar to test surroundings as possible.

2. Keep actively involved

Preparing for Tests

Use Relearning Method

Important: You must spread learning out in order to best accomplish this.

If you can't avoid cramming:

Other General Tips

1. Sit close to the front of the room, especially in large classes.

2. Get to know the professor -- Introduce yourself at the beginning of the semester, ask questions after class, and during office hours. There is research showing that one predictor of success in college is amount of interaction with professors.

3. Keep up with your reading.