WAYS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR STUDY TIME
The topic of study skills sounds about as interesting as lint collecting, but there are some moves that can help you get more miles to the gallon out of your learning time:
- Tap into study resources at your school. If your school offers after-class review sessions for AP U.S. History, be there. Your teacher can't slip and tell you exactly what is going to be on the test, because he doesn't know. He does know what has been on the test in the past, however.
Also, review sessions are great places to practice that short essay writing. You weren't very good at riding a bike until you had the chance to try again and again. You won't be really good at writing short history essays until you have written at least ten. Just as you wouldn't want your first time on a bike to be at the bike races, you don't want your first experience with a DBQ to be on the big test. If your school offers feedback on practice essays, make sure you are first in line.
- Have a regular study place and time, and stick to them every day.
- When you study outside class, break up your 1-hour study time into two 30-minute chunks, with a 5-minute walk-around break between chunks.
- Review during the day, when you are really awake. An hour during daylight can be worth two hours at night.
- As New Agey as this sounds, tell yourself that you strongly intend to remember what you are studying. At the beginning of your study session, for example, say, "I am going to remember the presidents from Abe Lincoln to Teddy Roosevelt tonight." Research shows that the act of seriously committing to remember improves retention as much as 50 percent. Trying and not quite making it is okay; you can always do better tomorrow. What is not okay is just waiting to see what you just happen to remember. You have to set a clear goal and push hard to make it. Dreams come true because people make them come true.
- Always associate a new fact with an old one, as in "Oh, I see. John Charles Fremont becomes the Great Pathfinder for the Republican Party as its first presidential candidate (1856) after he was the Great Pathfinder of the West on the trails to California (1836-1853)."
- Study the difficult stuff first. Set some reward milestones. After you make it through the Civil War, it's time for a small party!
- Get emotional about the events you are studying: Women's rights were awesome and long overdue; slavery sucked. You remember facts that mean something to your heart, not just your fine mind.
- Although your friends and family may not seem to be begging for the latest in history insights, teach them about some of the important events you are learning. Teaching a concept to someone else more than doubles your memory of that concept.