A large part of achieving good grades is to apply time management skills.
An online friend encouraged me to post this suggestion. He is trying to have excellent grades in order to continuing onto a post-grad professional program. He told me that he has ‘post-it’ notes all over his apartment, to help him with some course material. I imagine him with notes on his fridge, his mirrors, his computer monitor and various other places throughout that apartment. This reminder-note method simply is not efficient.
What I suggested was a recipe card system. It does not involve anything electronic and the method works. – Take ten recipe cards. Yes, those are the little cards that perhaps you see in old manual filing systems. On each of the ten cards, put one concept or factoid that you are trying to learn. Do not put more than one fact on one card. Do that for ten cards and just ten cards. Keep those cards with you all the time and readily accessible. Put them in your pocket, in your backpack … wherever you can pull them out easily.
When you have a spare moment throughout the day, look at a card or a few cards. You can do this whenever you have a few moments. This could be standing in line while waiting – while sitting on the bus – while walking across campus. If you have a few moments, pull out the packet of ten cards and look at one. Even if you look at just one of the cards, that is fine. You are learning a fact.
When one of the cards is something that you really know and you are confident that you have mastered the concept, remove the card. Fill in another recipe card with another bit of information that you have to know and keep the pile at ten cards. For the card with the information you have mastered, do not throw it away. Save it.
You want to save the cards that you know. This will be the basis of your studying for exams or tests. The pile of cards that you save will be difficult concepts that you have mastered. Review those cards when you are studying for a quiz. Do not study material that you know. That is a waste of time. These saved recipe cards are concepts that have given you trouble. This is exactly the material that you need to review. Hopefully, you have been totally honest and only moved the cards to the ‘saved’ pile after you have learned and mastered the concept.
Your task during the day is to pull out that stack of ten cards and review material whenever you have a few moments. Do this often. You do not need a huge amount of time. You just need to be repetitive and use the cards that you have made. You will have exposure to difficult concepts many times throughout the day. In addition, you are preparing material for review before a test or exam. The saved cards will remind you of what concepts gave you trouble and what you have mastered. That alone should lower your test anxiety. Throughout the term, by using this method, you have tackled the material that has given you the most difficulty.
If a specific concept is giving you problems, add more information to the back of the recipe card. Keep it in your pile of ten and work on that concept. Do not waste your time on material that you know. Trust yourself – you know that easy material and you have identified what needs your attention.
I find that this method is preferable to a laptop or a digital assistant. It is easier and faster. The method is simple – and it facilitates your using it again and again and again. There is no need to open the laptop and booting up the notebook. Just pull out the packet of ten recipe cards from wherever you have them.
This methodology may seem very ‘old school / low tech’. It is. The simplicity and multiple use of the cards allows it to work without great effort on your part. You will learn the material – factoid by factoid. Your stack of stored cards should increase throughout the term. And your grades will improve significantly.
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[tags]studying, exam preparation, school, recipe cards, review material, anxiety[/tags]