Planning and organizing your studies
At university, a considerable part of the learning process happens outside of the classroom. Students have the main responsibility for their studies with the support of faculty members. Your course timetable will not include independent study time therefore it is important to learn how to organize your studies which will be a key factor in your success at university.
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One way to organize your studies is to plan a weekly schedule. Within your weekly schedule you should include time for reading course literature, researching material for assignments, reviewing lectures notes and study groups. Make sure you clearly note when assignments are due so you have the time needed to prepare. It is also important to allot time for extracurricular activities as well.
Many students discover that university studies include a tremendous amount of reading. You are expected to read for many different purposes- in preparation for lectures and workshops, course literature, journal articles and reports of various kinds are some examples of what you will read. All of this reading can be a daunting task. Therefore, it is important to learn reading strategies early on to help you tackle all of that text! You should remember that there are three stages to reading a text: before, during and after.
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In the before stage you are essentially previewing what you will be reading and familiarizing yourself with the text you are about to read. You can do this by noting the chapter objectives and headings, looking over charts and diagrams in the book, taking notice of italicized words that might be of importance and finally reading any summaries at the end of the chapter. All of this will give you a good preview of what is to come.
While you are reading take a moment to reflect on what you already know. If you have done a good preview then you should be familiar with the text. Begin reading actively: highlight, underline, comment and circle unknown or key words throughout the text. You can also summarize what you have read by writing a summary of the chapter or creating a mind-map.
After you have read the text recite what you have read either to yourself or to a friend. You should review what you have read within the first 24 hours and weekly thereafter. Take a few minutes each week to review the main points of the text. Reviewing is a key element to retaining the information in the long-term.
Effective note-taking is an important skill to learn at university. Just like with reading, there are three stages to note-taking: the before, during and after stage. Mastering good note-taking skills will help you better retain the information and allow you to have something to refer back to when studying for exams.
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Take a moment to think about what you know about the topic of the lecture. Look up any unfamiliar words. Familiarize yourself with the topic.
Be an active listener during the lecture. Instead of writing verbatim (word for word) what your teacher says, try to write in your own words. Try not only to listen and write notes but also to analyze what is being said.
Take a few moments after the lecture to reflect on what you have heard. Talk to a class friend or study group and discuss your thoughts about the lecture. Try to summarize the main points through jotting down the key words. You can also create a mind-map or cluster from your lecture notes.