Learning how to study effectively is a skill you can apply both toward schoolwork and toward the pursuit of your goals. Learning is a skill that you will want to continually hone throughout your life by taking courses, reading books, and engaging in self-directed learning projects.
There are distinct stages in learning. Initially, you learn by reading the material or listening to lectures. Next, you understand what it means. Finally, you remember it well enough to be able to recall it later on a test or in day-to-day work situations.
Each stage builds on the previous one: first understanding, then remembering come from successful learning. Understanding comes from thinking about what you have learned so that the ideas are clear in your mind and can be organized into meaningful patterns or structures (called mental models). Understanding makes use of memory – for example using sensory memory (associations with visual images) as well as short term memory (what does this mean now?)
The answer is in the question. Examiners do indicate the kind of answer they want. In order to know what examiners are looking for, you must learn how to “read” questions properly.
Look for these key words and phrases:
Creating and using visual maps is a great way to understand the relationships between ideas. It also gives your brain an anchor, which will help you recall information later on. Visual maps can be as simple as a table or a flow chart, relating different ideas to each other in straightforward ways that are easy to remember.
When making your own study maps, first identify what the key elements of the concept are that you’re trying to learn about and write them down for reference. Then figure out how these elements relate to each other in terms of cause-and-effect, contrast or similarity, and chronology — for example, a map might show you how one problem leads to another one; what happens when two things are compared; or what event comes before and after another event happened.
Once you’ve mapped out the information, make sure that you understand it thoroughly: can you draw conclusions from the map? Do causes lead logically towards effects? Can you walk through the chronological order of events? Try going over each step of your own thinking and understanding with someone else if possible — this way they can correct any misunderstandings that you might have had in putting together your map.