What's an effective way to study so that it "sticks"?

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In summary: T - try to do some exercises from the chapter, either at the end or in the margins, but don't solve them yet.U - go back to the problems in the chapter and try to solve them.Hopefully this will help you to remember the material better and to be able to apply it in different contexts.
  • #1
Zephyyr441
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Hi, everyone!

Throughout most of my school days, my way of studying consisted only of rote learning and cramming the material the night before the exams just to be able to get a passing grade.

Today, it's not surprising that I forgot most of what I learned all those years ago, and I need help in order to avoid this right now.

Right now, I'm planning on entering college, and I wish to avoid the same mistakes I did back in the day. What I wish now is to be able to learn an effective way to study so that whatever I'm studying is actually stored in my long-term memory, instead of memorizing it and forgetting it after a week as I did all those years back.

I've googled this topic for a few days, and right now I'm going through Coursera's "Learning how to Learn" course held by Barbara Oakley, but in the meantime, I would like to hear your suggestions/best practices as well.

So, in your opinion what do you think is most important when studying in order to learn the material the best way, and to make learning more effective?

Also, a side question, how can I stop yawning when I'm trying to study? For whatever reason, I get very sleepy, and I have this really weird problem in which I yawn basically every 20-30 seconds while I'm reading, which makes studying almost impossible. This doesn't happen to me when I'm reading something I'm interested in, or like reading about. Also, it's not because I'm tired or anything, it's just sort of a weird problem of mine that I cannot find a solution for.

Is this just a temporary thing that will go away on its own since I haven't studied seriously for so long, or is this something that I need to worry about?

Thanks in forward!
 
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  • #2
Zephyyr441 said:
Also, a side question, how can I stop yawning when I'm trying to study? For whatever reason, I get very sleepy, and I have this really weird problem in which I yawn basically every 20-30 seconds while I'm reading, which makes studying almost impossible. This doesn't happen to me when I'm reading something I'm interested in, or like reading about. Also, it's not because I'm tired or anything, it's just sort of a weird problem of mine that I cannot find a solution for.
To be candid, it sounds like you are not truly interested in STEM subjects. Perhaps it is time for you to look into studying a trade (electrician, plumber, HVAC technician, etc.). If you find studying STEM that boring, it's time to switch it up, IMO.

Alternately, you should change to classroom learning instead of self-studying. If you keep yawning in a classroom setting (like at a local community college), that should help point you to finding a trade. If the yawning goes away, that just means that you require an in-person learning environment in order to learn the best.
 
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  • #3
Zephyyr441 said:

What's an effective way to study so that it "sticks"?​

That depends almost entirely on you. Different people have different methods.
 
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  • #4
Welcome!
If you can reach the point of fully understanding what you are trying to learn, there is no need to remember much.
See a doctor if you get very sleepy in other situations as well.
If it only happens while studying, it may be a subconscious rejection to the subjects or the fact of being back at school.
 
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  • #5
Hi @Zephyyr441 and Welcome to PF!:welcome:

Well in my opinion in order to fully grasp the theory and for it to stick at your long term memory you must attempt some problems on your own. Even if you can't successfully find the whole solution of the problem, the attempt (on your own, without reading part or whole of the solution even if you understand it after you read it) will make you go deeper into the theory, to understand the whys and hows of the theory.
So yes that's the important thing for me to do some attempts on your own, with problems relating to theory or the theory itself (e.g. try to find your own proof to an important theorem, try to find variations of the theorem e.t.c.).
 
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  • #6
As an undergrad, I used to follow a method suggested by the university (they gave us a booklet the day we enrolled). It is known as PQRST:

P - preview the entire chapter; just read it carefully, write down the equations but don't try to reproduce them.
Q - go through the questions and problems at the end of the chapter; attempt some sketchy solutions; the purpose is to point down topics you should focus on.
R - read carefully the chapter, but this time very intensely, doing all the algebra and making sure you understand all the steps through the math and the arguments.
S - 'state out loud' the material of the chapter you just read; it is amazing how many different methods that booklet mentioned, like talking the chapter out to a friend, as a lecture to a local science club, write an article to the university's newspaper, etc.; I used to make an outline (sort of cheat sheet) and then, by consulting it, I rewrote the chapter with the equations and all; that is the step most students tend to miss.
T - now, you go again through the questions and problems and try your very best to answer them thoroughly; getting suggestions and help from other sources is almost a must, as long you eventually make them your own.

In the Internet, you will find various versions of the method. Follow the hardest one, most appropriate for college study. Perhaps the method doesn't work for all, but it worked for me!
 
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  • #7
Zephyyr441 said:
Throughout most of my school days, my way of studying consisted only of rote learning and cramming the material the night before the exams just to be able to get a passing grade.

Today, it's not surprising that I forgot most of what I learned all those years ago, and I need help in order to avoid this right now.
No great progress in short term. Progress is meaningful only with regular study and regular practice. Some of this needs to be comprehensive review, including comprehensive exercises.
 
  • #8
apostolosdt said:
As an undergrad, I used to follow a method suggested by the university (they gave us a booklet the day we enrolled). It is known as PQRST:
Were there not lectures at this institution? How were they to be integrated into the scheme? I recommend PQ before the lecture.
 
  • #9
@apostolosdt,
What does the T stand for in the pneumonic?
 
  • #10
symbolipoint said:
@apostolosdt,
What does the T stand for in the pneumonic?
Test.
 
  • #11
hutchphd said:
Were there not lectures at this institution? How were they to be integrated into the scheme? I recommend PQ before the lecture.
After I returned from the university; that was how I studied my material at home. And yes, your recommendation is a good one.
 
  • #12
The best way I know of to learn something well is that you have to use it.

In most cases, I find coursework introduces you to a topic. It's only when you use that material in multiple contexts that you really develop an understanding of it and a skill with its application. Even if you learn something well through the course, unless you come back to it, it's quite likely to fade from your memory.

That's why with each course it's important to go through the curriculum as early as you can, brush up on as much of a prerequisite material as possible and try to read ahead. That way, when a topic is covered in a course, you already have some experience with it, and can focus on the aspects of it you find challenging. Then, look for ways to apply that new knowledge.

As for the yawning... make sure you take care of yourself. Get sleep. Eat properly. Exercise. Make sure you're as alert as you can be when you study. Make studying a habit so that that your brain gets used to particular times and settings for that activity. And look for ways to engage actively with the material. Work through problems rather than passively reading through topics.
 
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Related to What's an effective way to study so that it "sticks"?

1. What is the best way to study so that it "sticks"?

The most effective way to study is to use active learning techniques, such as practicing retrieval and spaced repetition. This means actively engaging with the material, testing yourself on what you have learned, and reviewing the material at spaced intervals to reinforce your memory.

2. How can I make sure that I remember what I have studied?

To improve retention, it is important to use a variety of study methods, such as summarizing, creating flashcards, and teaching the material to someone else. Additionally, taking breaks and getting enough sleep can also help with memory consolidation.

3. Is it better to study for long periods of time or in short bursts?

Research has shown that studying in shorter, more frequent sessions is more effective than cramming for long periods of time. This allows for better retention and understanding of the material.

4. How can I stay motivated to study?

Setting specific goals and creating a study schedule can help with motivation. It is also important to take breaks and reward yourself for completing tasks. Finding a study group or accountability partner can also provide motivation and support.

5. Are there any specific study techniques that are proven to be more effective?

Some techniques that have been shown to be effective include spaced repetition, practice testing, and interleaving (mixing up different types of material). However, the most important factor is finding a study method that works best for you and sticking with it consistently.

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