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ReReading is Not Studying: 5 Effective Study Techniques

Re-reading and highlighting are students’ most common revision strategies worldwide. When re-reading, students go through the information they have covered in class and then highlight the critical points. When studying for a test, re-reading your study material can seem like the logical step, but the gains from this technique are minimal.

Re-reading ensnares readers with a false sense of fluency. It doesn’t make connections between concepts. Instead, you repeatedly review information to retain essential points without analyzing how it relates to other knowledge.

Instead of re-reading, here are examples of five effective study techniques to retain information.

1. The SQ3R Method

The SQ3R study technique is a stage-by-stage method of learning that helps the learner use their comprehension skills to retain the most information. The SQ3R stages include survey, questions, read, recite and review.

In the survey stage, the learners start by reviewing the first chapter of their study material and making notes on the main topics, sub-headings, images, and charts. In the following questions stage, the learner makes questions based on the notes from the first chapter. Questions in this section may include ‘What do I know about this topic? What are the main subtopics?’ and others.

In the reading stage, you should analyze the first chapter in-depth while looking for answers to the formulated questions. To recite, summarize the chapter you’ve read in your own words and note the major points. In the final review stage, read the major points, quiz yourself and re-read portions of the topic for better understanding.

2. Self-Quizzing

Self-quizzing, sometimes referred to as retrieval or recall, is a study technique where learners solve sample questions to test their memory and knowledge on a specific subject. The self-quizzing study technique utilizes the testing effect phenomenon where the memory retains material from tests better and longer than material from re-reading.

Many students avoid self-quizzing when revising because it requires more analytical and psychological effort than re-reading. But, if your goal is to retain information and pass a test, self-quizzing is among the most effective study methods. The best way to formulate practical questions is by using the key points from your summary. After answering the questions, review the topic to ensure you have the correct information.

3. Make Flashcards

Flashcards are perfect for jotting down key points to test and improve memory. Traditionally, flashcards only contain vital points, but for maximum retention, you can mix information, questions, and images. To use the flashcard study technique effectively, group cards into themes, formulate questions about a specific stack of cards and note connections. Remember that creating flashcards also counts as studying because you must recall information to write it down.

Other ways to use flashcards effectively include saying information out loud after flipping a card and trying to spend time recalling what information a flashcard contains instead of just flipping after the first attempt. If you have a study group, you can make a flashcard game where the winner gets the most points.

4. Spaced Learning

Spaced learning is a study technique that encourages students to review the course work over time instead of cramming before a test. Cramming is when you try to memorize a load of information within a short timeline. In most cases, cramming is ineffective because it raises stress levels making it difficult to recall the information.

Spaced learning, on the other hand, focuses on absorbing information in manageable stages instead of overloading your memory in one instance. Here’s an example of an excellent spaced learning approach:

  • Week1: Learn the topic in class

  • Week 2: Revisit and review

  • Week 3: Self-quiz

  • Week 4: Revisit and review

5. Paraphrasing and Reflecting

The paraphrasing and reflecting technique focus on reading the source material, noting down information in your own words, and taking time to analyze the main concept. Paraphrasing and reflecting is an excellent study technique for students who are a few weeks away from an exam and can’t practice spaced learning.

When using this study technique, ensure you paraphrase source material and not just change a few words. Changing only a few words can give the illusion of understanding even when you haven’t understood the basic concept.

To use this method effectively, compare your paraphrased notes to the original material to ensure the information is objective and accurate. Formulate and answer questions based on your notes at the end of each topic.

Written by Steve Ndar
Education World Contributor
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