I’ve recommended a lot of different strategies on this blog. One of my main goals when recommending a particular strategy is that the strategy is likely to actually be followed.
Sure, it may help your grades to study for a test in a pool of ice water but considering how few people would actually do it, it’s not something I want to waste my time recommending. That’s why I’m a little hesitant to bring up this study strategy.
One of the best times to learn about a subject is directly in class when your teacher is trying to teach it. That is the perfect time to put the pieces together and ask any questions that you need to find the answer to. That being said, it’s not always that easy. Sometimes it takes so much focus just to keep up that finding any important questions is almost impossible. (This problem is exaggerated when the teacher sucks at teaching.)
Questions don’t often just show up out of thin air. They usually get developed slowly. By the time the teacher is done lecturing on the subject you may still not know quite what your questions should be. You might even feel this uncomfortable feeling when you think about the subject but not know why.
Many classes are taught extraordinarily fast. Not even the teachers expect you to keep up with the information they’re teaching. They just throw the information at you in hopes that some of the information will stick. This can be a serious problem to someone trying to understand the subject when they don’t have any idea what they’re doing.
This is where early study sessions can come in.
The Early Study Session
An early study session is a study session that takes place before you actually listen to the teacher’s lecture. (Some teachers assign reading assignments in this way already.) When you study material before the teacher lectures about it, you’re giving your brain significantly more time to think about it. That means you’ll have a much deeper understanding of the actual lecture. That also means questions will come up a whole lot easier.
In general, you shouldn’t get too far ahead of your lectures but by studying a little bit about a particular subject before the lecture you’d be surprised the improvements you could make in your final understanding. This is the kind of strategy that can help you remember information permanently while developing a genuine deeper understanding of the subject (not just memorizing it.)
In some classes, this can be an easy strategy to implement. Some teachers specifically assigned reading before a lecture. In those cases, you might just want to actually do the reading assignments. (I know… virtually no one does but sometimes they can really help.) Other teachers are very clear about the lectures that are coming up in the future. You can use that information to start your studying before they even bring the subject up.
Sometimes you’ll have classes where this strategy is difficult to implement. In those cases, I recommend you don’t try to force it. Just accept that this strategy isn’t ideal. It may still be possible with some carefully chosen tangential material but there are often more efficient methods to get better results.
You Probably Won’t Do It
This is the reason I’m hesitant to recommend this strategy. Very few people will take the time to study a subject before they listen to the lecture on it. It can have a very positive effect but it’s also one of those things that can require a whole lot of discipline to follow through with.
If someone has the discipline to use this strategy then they’re likely to not need the strategy as much as the average person. They might see a small improvement in their grades but it’s hardly worth stressing about excessively. There are tons of study strategies that work in a similar manner.
Regularly readers send me messages asking why I don’t talk about some particular study strategy or recommending some complicated study strategy. The sad truth is that virtually no one will listen to those study strategies. The more complicated and difficult a study strategy is, the more compliance with that study strategy would drop.
While I occasionally give a quick lesson about a complicated study strategy, they’re not treated as the only way to solve the problems. I certainly don’t expect the average person to take much from those lessons. (I’m hoping to reach the few people that can do it.) Most importantly, I hope they take a few creative thoughts that they can mold into their own personal study strategies.
That brings me to the most important point.
It’s About You
If you have the discipline to do early study sessions then good for you. It will likely have a great positive impact on your final grades. It may not always be ideal in laboratory experiments but it doesn’t have to be, it just has to work for you. Heck, it could be a placebo effect. Your grades will still be going up. If that’s the case, who cares why!? As long as it’s working, trust it.
The truth is, you may not even be disciplined but can still do early study sessions. You may have just gotten attached to them for some other reason. That’s awesome. It’s certainly not predictable but it’s awesome. Take advantage of that situation and milk it for every extra point it’s worth.
The most important factor in arranging your study sessions is compliance. You need to follow through with the studying that you have to do. If you fail to follow through then, not only will you see no improvement in your grades, but you’ll also have no idea if the study strategy you planned on using actually works. That means when you really need to study well, you won’t know if you have the best method for you.
Find a study strategy and follow through with it. If you have any doubt whether or not you can follow through with it then you probably shouldn’t be committing to that study strategy. The more committed you are to following through, the more lessons you can learn from your previous experiences. The less committed you are, the more you’ll stay stuck in the dark about everything.
Do you want to know how to study in less than 15 minutes a night? That’s what this blog is all about. Be sure to follow along and check out the archives. Also, check out the ebooks in the sidebar to learn more even faster.
Aaron Richardson took his grades from fighting F’s to Easy A’s. In the process, he read over 300 books on personal development. Today he’s founded 2 blogs on studying including Smart Student Secrets. He’s written 3 books on the subject. His work has been featured on some of the biggest news, psychology, and student sites on the internet.