The Key To Learning Happens After Class Is Over
Many things happen during a lecture. The previous night's homework is reinforced, new concepts are introduced, and clarification of confusing topics take place. It seems like a lot of work for an hour or two of your time. Once class is over, so is your learning, right? Wrong! You'll need to do a little more work. This is going to be difficult, I know, because you're probably focused on grabbing a bite to eat or meeting up with friends after class. However, by doing a litte bit of work now, you'll save yourself a LOT of work later.
This is an important point. Think about the routine for a minute. You go to class. You write down everything the professor says, thinking to yourself that you'll read the notes later if you forget what is said. You stuff the notes into your bag, never to be read again until the night (or day of) a test. You might even bring a tape recorder to class with the same intentions. You might read the recommended chapters for homework, or you might not. Then, the night before a test, you forsake a social outing to review all of your notes and to catch up on all the reading in the textbook. You continue this dance minutes before the test begins. You sweat during the test, trying to sort out what you've assimilated the night before. Does this sound like you?
Many students fall into this trap. Not only is it inefficient, it makes you work too hard, and you end up learning nothing. This is why you need to invest a little time now in order to reap the rewards later.
What to do? First, glance over them as soon as possible after the lecture. The lesson will still be fresh in your mind, and you will be able to recall almost the entire lecture. You will also be able to supply missing parts from memory. Some students make it a rule to reduce all their notes to typewritten form soon after the lecture. This is an excellent practice, but it's pretty time-consuming. If you want to take this extra step, it's definitely effective, but not completely necessary.
Secondly, review your notes, typewritten or not, as the first step in the preparation of the next day?s lesson. This will connect up the lessons with each other and will make the course a unified whole instead of a series of disconnected parts. You'll be amazed at how the subject matter makes more sense when you do this. Too often, a course exists in a student?s mind as a series of separate discussions, and he sees only the horizon of a single day. This condition might be represented by a series of disconnected links:
O O O O O
A summary of each day?s lesson, however, preceding the preparation for the next day, forges new links and welds them all together into an unbroken chain:
A method that has been found helpful is to use a double-page system of notetaking, using the left-hand page for the bare outline, with largest divisions, and the right-hand page for the details. This device makes the note-book readily available for hasty review or for more extended study.
These techniques will improve your learning, make your classroom time more efficient, and supercharge your homework. Come test time, you will find that you won't need to cram the night before! The night before a test is a time to relax and get a good night's sleep. Your mind and body will be fresh and ready for any exam the next day. Just a quick review of your notes before the test will jog your memory, priming your brain to ace that exam!
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