Study Techniques You Need to Know Now (Stop Highlighting!).

click here for 3 study techniques to use active recall

If you are still highlighting your notes, you need to put that bright yellow texta away. I’m about to hit you with some way better study techniques.

And if don’t know what active recall is yet, you are digging yourself an even bigger hole!

Active recall is a method of studying that allows you to get the most out of your study sessions and teaches your brain to be better at recalling information – exactly what you need to do when your exam comes around.

If you haven’t heard about it yet, check out my blog post here that looks at exactly what active recall is, the neuroscience behind it and some tips on how to implement it correctly.

Today, we’re going to look at three physical study techniques you can use to study with active recall methods. Let’s raise that GPA!

3 Study Techniques to Add to Your Routine

1. Flashcards

No surprises here! This is the most common way that people implement active recall methods in their study techniques.

It captures the essence of active recall – put something on one side of the card and ask your brain to conjure up the answer (that’s hidden on the other side!)

You can do this in a magnitude of ways – buy a set of empty flashcards from the local store and handwrite out the things you need to study.

Alternatively, you can use apps like Anki or what I use, Quizlet to create digital flashcards that you can study at anytime (like on the bus, or during your work break!)

It’s really easy and simple to get set up. Typically, my flashcards involve a word or phrase to define, or a phrase that encourages the recall of a list of information, like: “Checklist of Data Cleaning.”

With Quizlet especially, you have a few different ways you can interact and use your flashcards.

You can simply study them (see one side, and recall what’s on the other before flipping it over) but you can also use other functions like ‘match’, ‘test’ or ‘write’.

Match is exactly how it sounds – match the definition/phrase to its’ content. For Write, you write out the complementary side, and for test, you get to engage in a multiple choice quiz.

quizlet app flashcards for study with active recall

Have a look at other apps I use as a student here.

2. Create Your Own Questions

Flashcards aren’t anything new or revolutionary but a study technique that may be new news to you is writing out your own short answer or multiple choice questions!

For me, I like to do the first reading of a chapter or lecture, and make my own summary notes.

Using summary notes (or on your initial reading of the topic), you can create a list of questions relating to the content.

This is a really simply way to practice active recall, but requires slightly different preparation to get set up.

Then, whenever you need to do a study session, you can open up your document of questions and practice recalling that information.

Remember that even getting the answer wrong and then checking your answer allows for improvement in your later ability to recall the necessary information.

And, when exam time comes around, you won’t need to pester your lecturer for a bunch of sample questions. You’ve got a whole lot prepared.

You can even share them around with your friends to get a taste of different types of questions – as you all may have prepared slightly different versions.

Here’s an example of how I have prepared questions for a particular topic (on Notion, of course!).

a list of student prepared questions to study with active recall

3. Cheat Sheet & Look, Cover, “Write”, Check

Something that I particularly enjoy doing for exams, is making sure that have instant access to a magnitude of content from the topic at once.

In this case, I like to write out ‘cheat sheets’ containing all information covered across the semester for each of my courses.

It’s nice and tiny to easily fit across two double-sided pages (usually, depending on how much content you are forced to memorise during your semester!)

For this course, I highlighted key words to know the definition of (pink), used green to highlight therapeutic techniques used, separated by weekly topics (purple). Anything that is news to me when I write it on the sheet (something I hadn’t remembered from previous classes) I highlight in yellow, to signify to myself that it is something I need to remember.

Then, I use these cheat sheets to practice active recall of a whole heap of information!

I use these two pieces of A4 paper for a ‘Look, Cover, “Write”, Check’ procedure. Just like in primary school spelling, where you look at a word, cover it up, write it again, and then check it.

I locate a random highlighted section, cover it with my hand, then repeat aloud anything I can remember about that definition/phrase/topic.

This works for content heavy courses, where you need to rote learn a whole heap of things. However, I have also used it for courses where students need to write essays, creating a mind map of the topics/things I need to know, before using the Look, Cover, “Write”, Check procedure.

a cheat sheet to use for look, cover, write, check to study with active recall

And that’s it!

Hopefully this gives you a few new study techniques that aren’t just re-reading your notes.

If you need a reminder again: here are the reasons why you should study with active recall. You are wasting your time if you think highlighting will get you the grades you want.

Happy Studying!

Check out my latest blog posts here.

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6 Apps for Students: What You Need To Be Successful

Most days (more often than not), our phones can be a big bundle of distraction. Instagram, Facebook and Youtube can take up many hours of our lives.

Have a look at your iPhone’s screen-time in the settings. You’ll seriously be shocked.

However, you can actually use your phone for good (yes, it’s possible)!

Your phone can be something that makes you more productive and more efficient.

All you need are the right apps.

Here are six apps for students to get you on top of your university and college life.

six apps for students to be successful

Apps for Students

Forest

Of all the apps for students, this one is the most useful!

Which is crazy, since it’s one that does nothing.

That’s right.

Nothing.

Forest is an app that locks you out of using your phone.

The perfect study motivation.

But it doesn’t just lock you out of your phone, it gives you incentive not to close the app – by planting a tree!

The Forest app works similar to the Pomodoro technique.

You get to set a timer, and pick a tree to plant.

Then as you’re timer runs, the tree grows. And, if you can’t keep your hands off your phone, opening and using another app will kill your growing tree.

It sounds silly – but its honestly one of the best apps I’ve ever used for study.

I never want to kill any trees.

You will be surprised what it can do for your productivity!

Notion

Notion is note-taking app/program that has recently taken the study world by storm.

It has been reviewed by countless creators and influencers on the internet, and has only just boomed in popularity.

The app is both super aesthetically pleasing and a super practical addition to my workflow as a student.

It’s a note-taking program organised like no other.

You can use a variety of templates to organise your ideas in the most functional ways.

Pages can be simply lines of writing, but can also includes tables of information with tags, dates and deadlines as well as links and formatting options to make any and all notes neat and effective.

The app has a tonne of templates to sort out anything and everything you need to be organised.

This includes pages to organise job applications, calculate grades, take Cornell notes, course syllabuses, and thesis planning.

It’s also so beautiful that you’ll be happy to open it up and take notes in class.

It’s customisation options also mean you can decorate any page as you like.

AND everything you do on your mobile seamlessly syncs with the desktop version of Notion. You can access your notes at anytime.

See my full post about how I use Notion, here.

It’s also included in my must-have Chrome extensions for students, here.

Quizlet

Quizlet is the one of the apps for students that you really need to up your study game when exams come around.

Like other popular studying apps, Quizlet is a flashcard based system.

It’s free (unlike a few other flashcard app options) and makes it super easy to access study materials on both your computer and mobile at anytime.

Most important, it allows you to practice one of the most effective study techniques, active recall.

active-recall-for students

The app allows you to create flashcards of your own study material and has multiple options available for reviewing and studying.

This includes reviewing the flashcards, multiple choice quizzes, matching or full testing (which includes an assortment of review types).

While you are free to make your own study materials, you can also choose from other users flashcard sets.

If your studying for an anatomy exam – you will find no shortage of ready-made sets for you to revise.

If you want more information on why you should be using Quizlet, check out my post about active recall here. It’s neuroscience to help you hack your exam study to get you the best results possible!

reMarkable

This one is very personal to my own study routine, but I would be doing you a big disservice if I didn’t mention how I use the reMarkable app for my study.

It’s a big part of my university life.

The reMarkable paper tablet is a device to mimic the pen-to-paper feeling, with digital notebooks.

It’s app cleverly syncs to the tablet, allowing you to have access to your notes anytime from your computer or mobile.

The app works to complement the user experience on the tablet.

I can send PDFs journal articles to my tablet (to read and highlight and make notes on), as well as lecture notes to mark up.

Through the app, I can also make PDF copies of my hand written notes to save to my computer.

See how I use the reMarkable Paper Tablet as a university student here.

remarkable paper tablet for university students

Google Drive + Docs + Sheets

For someone who wants access to everything, 24/7, you really can’t go past Google Drive.

Having this app on both your mobile and your computer means that you have access to your files wherever you need.

As someone who is also very anxious about Word crashing and destroying my latest assignment draft – I always love to upload my latest versions to a Google Drive.

This means, if anything crashes (or I spill coffee on my laptop), I have a copy of my assignments and work up in the cloud.

Google Drive also works seamlessly with Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets, meaning you can also edit documents on the go.

One of the best parts about the Drive though is the ability to share documents with others.

And having multiple users who can edit Google Docs is super useful for group assignments.

If you don’t use Google Drive to its full potential, you are truly missing out on seamless transitions between uni computers and your own laptop and mobile devices.

Apple Podcasts

While this app isn’t specific to studying, I think it is so super super important to regularly explore it as a student.

Podcasts can teach you so many important skills, help you figure out life decisions, motivate you and relax you.

I like to listen to podcasts to do one of four things:

Find out more about something I’m interested in. This could be to do with my degree, or it might be something very random and out of the blue. (But hey – the more you know!).

I absolutely love using the podcast app to wind down with guided meditations at night time or during exam season. My favourite is Meditation Minis.

Get some life advice – lately, I’ve been listening to Hello PhD (to see if PhD is the path I want to take) and My Millennial Money (to wrap my head around my finances).

Get motivated! Nothing like some success stories and amazing women to get you inspired. I like to listen to I’ll Have Another for some running motivation and recently loved listening to Grace Beverley on The Plant Based Business Podcast.

And that’s it! Six apps for students that you shouldn’t live university life without!

At the end of the day, it’s all about choosing to use your technology for good – and not to be a constant distraction to your study and life goals!

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