5 myths about effective study habits

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Many of us have been students at some point in our lives, and have made it through years of classrooms and homework intact, albeit through less-than-ideal methods. From late nights in front of laptops or notebooks to spending every last minute cramming truck-loads of information for an exam, the struggles of student life truly is an experience unlike any other. If you yourself are a student, such experiences may sound familiar to you, to the point that excelling as a student may seem like a mythic, unreachable pipe dream, but fear not: there are ways to survive — and even thrive — in the obstacle-ridden academic life. Here are 5 myths you may have heard about study habits that you really shouldn’t believe in anymore in this day and age:

Myth #1: Excellent students love to study more than anything

Most of the time, they really don’t. Excellent students are just regular students — that is, there are many other things they would much rather do than spend all their time locked up, buried in piles of paper and PowerPoint slides, despite what many people think. What marks excellent students from mediocre ones, however, is their love of learning, rather than studying. Therefore, improving your studying habit is really all about changing your perspective — take each time to study as an opportunity for learning new things, no matter what subject it may be. More often than not, there will probably be some snippets of information that can change your perspective — and that’s always a good thing.

Myth #2: Everything you need is on the teacher’s PowerPoint

Honestly, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Far from the small bits of information presented on the slides, a large portion of the relevant information is actually spoken by your professor in class, so not taking your own notes is really quite a mistake. Information presented onscreen is very, very limited, and a large part of the important information worth remembering are in the exchanges during class discussions. So taking note of everything that isn’t on the slides is what is truly important — another benefit of taking your own notes is that your information is customized and personalized to your own understanding.

Myth #3: Typewritten notes are just the same as handwritten notes

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Despite the ubiquity of laptops and cellphones inside classrooms now, some things just remain better done the old-fashioned way — including note-taking. Research done by the Association for Psychological Science has shown that taking notes by hand — pen on paper, that is — fares better in the long term in remembering conceptual information. With this, with everything going progressively digital in these days, it would be best to abandon the keyboard and touchscreen in favor for the pencil and notebook, in this case at least. The future may be here in many ways, but some things just never change.

Myth #4 Memorizing is the key to success

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Old habits die hard, but this is one that must. Memorizing is probably the oldest habit in the book, and many of us survived through elementary school amidst exams and activities built around the practice of memorization. The truth, however, is that memorization does not always lead to understanding the very heart of the subject matter, despite what many of us may have been brought up to believe. Rather, memorizing [for a test], as highlighted by Robert Hach, a teacher, inevitably results in forgetting the information after the test, and the human mind requires time to process information into understanding — and no other bridge exists between information and knowledge than understanding — not memorization.

Myth #5: Cramming is an acceptable study habit if it works

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It may work fine for you, but it’s probably only because it’s what you, like many others, have grown used to. Studying and working under pressure (read: cramming) may have turned out fine in the past, but there truly, honestly, are much better ways to get things done — and to produce better quality work. Increasingly looming deadlines may provide a sense of adrenaline rush for motivation, but rushed work creates mediocre output, and never really lets you reach your fullest potential, cliche as it may sound. As with any and all things, quality takes time — whether it is working on a project or studying for an exam — so, in conclusion, two words: time management. This is, perhaps, what it all truly boils down to — allotting proper amounts of time for each task. It may seem a little tedious at first, but it will definitely pay off in the longer run.

The road to academic success can be tricky, but, like a great many other things, it’s all really about your own perspective and method. Education and the struggles of academic pursuit and student life will always be present, but studying habits have since evolved, and traditional mindsets have given way to more modern methods of learning — so here’s to better academic success and healthier study habits this 2019. Soon enough, you’ll hear that glorious graduation march tune.

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