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You Can Learn To Be A Successful Student Remember that these strategies do not necessarily work in isolation. Combine them to suit your needs and to maximise the effects!

By Wits Plus

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Developing efficient study skills is especially important for part-time students. As we have suggested before, it is possible to LEARN how to study. There are several research-based learning strategies that students can adopt to stand a better chance of actually remembering material.

Retrieval practice, the strategy of calling information to mind to enhance and boost our learning, is one of the overlooked strategies that we have already highlighted. It's worth exploring a few other strategies that research has found could help you to perform better in your studies AND to retain information for longer.

Space out your studying over time

The best way to do this is to create a study calendar to plan out exactly how and when to review chunks of content, which should include planning for small chunks of review every day. Plan to include both current concepts AND previously learned material.

Explain and describe ideas with many details

This requires the student to start making connections within the content. Practice it: Ask yourself open-ended questions about the material, answer in as much detail as possible, and then check the materials to make sure that your understanding is correct.

Switch between ideas while you study

While repetition is vital to learn something, research says we will actually learn a skill (or concept) more effectively if we mix our practice of it with other skills, through a process called 'interleaving'.

The reason that this works is that it is harder to do but it teaches you how to think more critically and choose a particular strategy for each problem, as opposed to just repeatedly doing the same thing.

Combine words and visuals

Information is often presented in combination with visuals of some sort: Images, charts or graphs. Practice it: when studying, pay attention to those visuals and link them to the text by explaining what they mean in your own words. This process reinforces concepts in the brain through two different paths, making it easier to retrieve later.

Remember that these strategies do not necessarily work in isolation. Combine them to suit your needs and to maximise the effects!

Wits Plus, the Centre for Part-Time Studies at the University of Witwatersrand, offers selected undergraduate degrees, as well as a wide range of short certificate courses. Evening classes make all qualifications accessible to working people and busy entrepreneurs. Wits Plus also offers a range of online short courses that enable you to study wherever you are. Certificates of Competence are awarded to successful participants for both certificate and online short courses.
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