Do you remember how to study?
If you’re going back to school after a lapse, it can be harder. The longer the lapse, the harder it is to get back into the swing of things. Studying material for a course takes a certain discipline. And if it’s been a long time, you may not have that discipline. Also, if you are starting distance education, you may be laboring under some misinformation that will hold you back even further.
For on-line classes, every test is an open book test. Back when you went to high school, or went to a brick and mortar college, open book tests were very rare. No books, no notes, just the paper and pencil and your knowledge put to the test. But at home, sitting on a computer, you are free to have your text books, other reference books, notes, cheat-sheets, and even entire search engines at your fingertips to help you find the answers you need.
Wow, that takes the pressure off, right? That’s the problem – with all those helpers at your disposal, there is less pressure to cram for tests and study study study until your eyes droop. It can in fact make your discipline even more lax than it was.
Here’s the key thing to remember when beginning classes – having an open book for your test won’t help you if you haven’t read the book. Even with an index and a table on contents, if you haven’t read the material, you won’t know where to begin, and you will be scrambling to read what you already should have read while the second tick down.
Just like the tests you used to take, these tests are timed. You don’t have all day. Depending on the length of the depth and the required depth of the expected answers, you could have an hour, maybe two. That part varies. But the clock is ticking, and if you don’t at the very least have a grasp on the material, you will be overwhelmed.
So here’s what you do:
READ READ READ!!! You will struggle through every course if you don’t take the time and the focus to read all of your assigned readings. Start early, read ahead, do what you have to – but read the material and take it all in. Of course you won’t remember it all, but that’s okay.
Take Notes – The more classes you take, the more you will understand your own limitations and strength and know how many notes to take. But err on the side of caution, and make a document to hold your notes for a course. Highlight specific parts of the text you know are important, break down key concepts, and keep a log of your discussion board postings.
Review the material – Before the test, go over all your notes. Tab pages in your text if they contain phrases, quotes, or equations that you may need. If having other text books or references will help, get them organized.
Plan hard, fight easy.