One of the most important things I believe any student should learn is their own learning style. Through the two-and-a-half years I have spent at university this is probably the most useful thing I have learnt. If you can learn to recognise your strengths and weaknesses this will help you in both your studies and also the ‘real-world’.
I, for example, know that I work better in the mornings than the afternoons and evenings so I try to get as much work done in the morning as I can. I also like to measure achievements – crossing or ticking off to do things is very satisfying for me so I make lists of what I have to get done so that I can see written down what I need to so and then make a big, black line through it when it’s done. I also find it’s harder to ignore when it’s written down and staring me in the face.
So here’s just four questions to help you work out the best time/place/way for you to work:
1. When do you find you are at your most productive (alert and functional)?
d. Late at night
2. What kind of workspace helps to focus your mind?
a. A clean and tidy organised desk with pens, pencils, highlighters, books and paper all in their neat little spots
b. A minimalist desk – a pen, some paper and a book
c. Doesn’t matter – you are able to work through any physical distractions and focus solely on the task at hand
d. Anywhere as long as it’s not at home – in a library, cafe or other space where you can carry all you need there and then work away without the distractions that come with being in your own space
3. What do you need to know before you sit down to study?
a. The subject – what else is there to know?
b. The subject and the topic – I can find my own information from books
c. The subject, the topic and the suggested reading
d. The subject, the topic, the suggested reading, how many pages you’re expected to read, the information you need to know…
4. What helps you to chart your progress best?
a. The passing of time and the general increase in knowledge
b. Better understanding of the course as it progresses and an increased ability to comprehend difficult texts
c. Lists of crossed off readings and work
d. A well-organised timetable you organised at the start of semester which outlines self-testing days and revision
This is by no means conclusive or in any way scientific but maybe just the thinking about the answers helped you to understand the way that you learn best. If you can think about how you work best this might enable you to incorporate some aspects of the environmental and organisational elements into your study habits.