Growing up, I was always surrounded by smart friends who continuously scored full marks on assignments and exams. I, on the other hand, scored average or below and constantly felt at a loss when I used the same learning and studying techniques as my peers, but didn’t score as well as them. It wasn’t until late in my high school career that I figured out how to do just as well as others by using a different learning technique.
Out with the old….
During one of my biology classes, I noticed that even though I was listening to everything the teacher was saying, my brain lagged like an old laptop running low on battery. By the time I processed the first topic, the teacher was already discussing content from three topics later. I felt I needed a way to have more time to process new information, so I started playing around with learning techniques.
….in with the new
I’d always thought that learning all the material consecutively, or in one sitting, was the best way to learn. But this study method made me less likely to pay attention or remember the content. In exploring alternative methods, I figured out I could find YouTube videos on the topic area I was studying, and I could pause or adjust the speed, plus read the captions. This allowed me to learn the same material, but at my own pace. I would never be “behind”.
I also learned that taking short breaks in between videos or study sessions seemed to “recharge” my learning capability. Instead of beating myself up over not remembering everything during a long study session, I would reward myself for what I could remember with a break for as long as I deemed necessary.
Putting it all together
I later found out that there are different learning styles, such as auditory, spatial, and linguistic, for each person. I researched more about it, took a few online tests, and decided to pick up more techniques that catered towards my specific learning style.
Since I am not an auditory learner, it was hard for me to retain everything a teacher said in class. But I could spend more time reading the provided textbook to fill in information I missed in a lecture. If I couldn’t properly visualize a concept, I would look up videos or images to help me do so. Instead of continuing to feel like a failure for not understanding things when others around me could, I found ways that worked best for me.
Although it was sometimes tedious, investing time in discovering how I learn and retain information helped me build confidence as a student and achieve academic success.
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