But you’re in luck. The Study Dude’s read countless books on how to study. So, here are seven tips to help you ace university from yet one more book: Straight A at Stanford and on to Harvard. Teenager Version: How to Become a Great Student by Peter Rogers, MD.
Buy co-op notes. Co-op notes help you ace exams. Some online stores exist where you can buy study notes. I almost started one of those online stores for Canada, but the cost for the plug-ins seemed to high. So, “get co-op notes from last year …. The students get together, and each makes a typed copy of the lecture notes from one class lecture. You can buy a copy of last year’s version …. Everyone is smarter when they have seen the material before. You will be too” (Rogers, p. 1 of 243, 5%).
Read ahead. I like to read one chapter of each textbook prior to starting a semester. I also did math problems in advance of each lecture. If I didn’t do them in advance, I’d get lost—and I was the top student in most every math class. Dr. Peter Rogers writes, “The night before biochem lecture, I read last year’s notes and look at the pictures in the book …. My ability to comprehend a biochemistry lecture just went from 30% to 95%” (p. 3 of 245, 5%). So, now that you’ve read ahead, “you can listen carefully for voice changes that signal something is likely on the test” (Rogers, p. 3 of 243, 5%).
Sit in front row. Never miss a class. Take classes from the best. At university, I only missed classes when I vacationed for a week in Mexico. But I studied beachside the entire time. And in class, I sat at the very front: “Show up on time. Go to every class. Sit in the front row” (Rogers, p. 3 of 243, 5%). Plus, I registered only in classes with the highest rated profs. Not only do they assign the best textbooks, but they teach clearly and test fairly. So, research class textbooks to ensure you have fully worked out solutions. And research instructors’ ratings when you can.
Rehash material. I used to play over and over in my head dance moves I learned that week. I recited facts from lectures over and over, too. When on a stationary bike, I’d do math problems based on the changing numbers of the timer and settings. So, “if you drive to school, then review … by repeating out loud what was covered in lecture. If you run, then do the same while running” (Rogers, p. 3 of 243, 6%).
See the plus-side of loneliness. Loneliness can turn us into A students. If you live isolated, then become an MD or lawyer. Sets your sights high—as you’ve got opportunity for singular focus. Dr. Rogers says, “On the weekends, I studied until I couldn’t take it anymore, and then would eat or go workout. In the afternoon and evening I would study some more. Lonely was an understatement” (p. 10 of 243, 8%). But the author of that quote ended up an MD and a champion wrestler.
Condense your notes. I read about the value of condensed notes in one how-to-study book. The author suggested making increasingly condensed notes. By tightening your notes, you synthesize and organize it. Dr. Rogers agrees: “Condensed notes mean that you make your own set of summary notes for all the important stuff covered in the class. You just put it into n 8X11 spiral notebook. This includes information from lectures, textbook and practice problems” (Rogers, p. 11 of 243, 9%). By condensing your notes, “you are learning the material. It gets you to study in an active way. This deeper processing leads to deeper understanding and better” (Rogers, p. 13 of 243, 9%). I recommend keeping each copy of your progressively condensed notes. You may need more detail come study time.
Read. I read often, mostly about health. Varying your reading can stretch your brain and allow a multidisciplinary mindset. That means, you synthesize topics, creating opportunities for novel ideas: “The vocabulary in nonfiction books is ten times greater than routine conversation. The vocabulary in novels and science textbooks is another ten times greater. The more you read, the more your vocabulary grows. The bigger your vocabulary, the more you can understand, the more you can express yourself” (p. 18 of 243, 11%).
You don’t need a Guinness-sized skull to get straight A’s. Just ask yourself, “Is acing university your goal?” If so, it will not only become your academic reality, but will also build habits for a lifetime of success.
Rogers, Peter, MD. (August, 2014). Straight A at Stanford and on to Harvard. Teenager Version: How to Become a Great Student. E-book.