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As students, it is your job to take good notes and learn from them. Over the years, students of various disciplines from fine arts to billing and coding schools have been looking for the best way to study and learn in their respective fields of study. For a long time, listening and recording information has been a standard practice of note-taking in classrooms. With the New Year upon us, Vista College would like to offer students like you the top 6 study hacks to help you better track your understanding of course materials.

The Art of Taking Better Notes

According to Hooman Katirai, an MIT graduate, one study hack he used to improve his note taking method was structuring the information in a way that would retain the most facts without summarizing them. Simply put, he suggests the use of flashcards to help the brain trigger a response when the brain recognizes a particular stimulus. By using flashcards, you will be able to easily quiz yourself and study partners on the go, just by turning the cards over and answering what is on the other side. In particular, flashcards also saves time compared reciting notes over and over.

Taking Care of Your Health Goes a Long Way

It is no secret that physical health improves mental performance, yet students tend to neglect this by either procrastinating and having to pull all-nighters to finish a paper or choosing to consume copious amounts of fast food on the go. Ming Jack Po, a PhD Candidate at Columbia, admits to wishing he had taken better care of his physical health during his earlier years in school. Many students take advantage of their youth by developing unhealthy habits which could potentially decline their quality of life beyond their school years. An active body means a more active mind to study with.

Add a Pinch of Structure to Your Daily Schedule

Having a structure in your daily schedule means taking a little extra time to plan ahead. Think of what you will need to complete this coming week on Sunday and save yourself the hassle of worrying on Wednesday when you feel like you’ve forgotten something off your to do list. Writing down your weekly schedule doesn’t only help you get school work done but it also helps you block off time for yourself. Scheduling effectively and living a healthier lifestyle comes hand in hand. If you are unable to schedule time to meet your daily dose of seven to eight hours of sleep, you will have more difficulty absorbing new information you are attempting to study.

Power Lies in Learning from Past Experiences

Reflecting on our experiences have the power to change our future decisions in similar situations because we are able to learn from both successes and failures. According to a study by Harvard Business School, employees at a call center had a staggering 22 percent of improvement in performance on the job, simply because they took 15 minutes at the end of their work day to reflect on the outcome. People that take the time to reflect on the outcomes of their actions tend to be more self-aware. As students, daily or even weekly reflections on both the successes and failures of attempted study habits can help improve learning efficiently over the long term.

In addition to reflecting as frequently as possible, recalling memories often can help students remember concepts better. For example, take 15 to 20 minutes before you sleep to recall the information you have learned today in class or studied in the morning. By doing so, you are exercising your ability to recall the concepts at ease whenever you would like.

Make the Connections While Reading

Mindlessly reading your notes or from the textbook has never been the ideal way to learn new information. Over the years educators have found that finding a way to explain concepts to others is a good way to assess how well you understand the material you are studying. In being able to explain these concepts, students will be more likely to make connections between prior and new knowledge. This is essentially the essence of what cumulative learning over school courses and a lifetime is. We as people draw connections between ideas to form knowledge.

Avoid Making Assumptions

One of the most dangerous things to do when studying is to skim through material that appears easy and assuming knowledge. If you have not tested yourself on whether you recall or know these concepts, it is never safe to assume your brain actually recalls it. Often times we skim information we assume is common sense but are unable to recall it when we turn away from the textbook. When studying, have a look at what you believe you already know and assess yourself by putting away the source of answers. Make sure you actually know what you believe you know.

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