I recently read a 2011 New York Times article that discussed a learning experiment conducted with 200 college students. The students were split into groups that utilized three different study methods:
(1) students only read the information with no further action.
(2) students wrote a concept map based off of the information they read.
(3) students read the information and then took a short test directly afterward.
Any bets on what method provided the most retention when the students were tested one week later? The third method actually ended up being the best!
The thought behind this study is that when students are tested on information immediately, they create different associations to the material than just being in “study-mode”—making it easier to recall. Those students who used this method resulted in 50 percent better retention according to the study. Based off of these results, I recommend finding a way to quiz yourself after a lecture or reading a lesson in your book.
With math and accounting classes that might be easy… do questions out of the book, see what you learned or didn’t learn and practice the skills.
With something a little more fluid like history or management techniques, try to utilize the resources you have available.
Perhaps the book has checkpoint questions covering the material or there might be practice tests at the back of the book.
Another good idea is to take some initiative and see if your teacher has old quizzes they wouldn’t mind sharing with you. In the end, the more work you put into your class, the better the results will be!