Are you interested in studying less, but learning more? Are you interested in developing your brain in a disciplined manner so that you can be more effective in studying? Are you interested in putting in place a system that will allow you to review materials you studied years ago? If so, then please continue on in this video.

I am going to give you some ideas on how to “study smart.” Different ways in which you can be successful not only in my courses but other courses as well.

First off, begin with a plan. It is important that you create good study habits, that you start good study habits. First of all you can do this by creating a routine, a way in which you begin your studies each day and perhaps plan for the week. So first of all create an overview, take a look at what assignments will be required for your course in the next few days. You will need to identify the important features, what exactly is in those assignments. Then put in place a plan, a study plan in which you address these assignments.

For instance, let’s take a look at one of my courses. Here is Music 105. Here we have the Unit 5 page.  As you know in my courses I lay out an introduction which provides you with a lot of the oversight and organization. So the first thing I suggest is to go to the introduction and take a look at the types of things that are going to be required. This week you are going to need to take a test, Test 2. You have an analysis project. Further down the page you can see the learning objectives. We are going to need to learn music terms, construct musical melodies and repetition, and then apply vocabulary to some sample compositions.

So with that in mind I would suggest that you take a piece of paper or do this on your computer: put down those objectives. OK, I have a test coming up, I have to master my musical terms, and I have to look at this analysis project and apply terms.

We go back to our Unit 5 page. We take a quick overview as to how I will do this. OK I have some reading assignments here, I have a lecture to view. So what I might do is to schedule the whole week (Monday-Friday or Saturday) and divide up the assignments. When would it be best for me to do this or that? And then put together a study plan.

In addition, since this involves terms, I would go to the terms page and see what is required for Unit 5. Here they are. I would make sure that I had all of those terms defined as well as the prior unit. So you can see that I am putting together a plan now. I am looking at the time and the resources I have and giving myself and overview of the materials. I haven’t even started studying yet! But a big part of this is putting together your plan.

So now that I have put together the plan, I am beginning the plan, now I am creating these good study habits. So I have put together my schedule and allocated the time. Then I need to implement the plan. There are different sections of the plan. I am learning the materials and while I am doing so I am taking notes. This is really important. You are trying to internalize the material. It doesn’t work (you won’t remember) if you are just going through the materials quickly. Try to master them; try to internalize them; create an understanding of these materials.  And then test your knowledge. Test to make sure that you understand these materials. Create your own sample tests similar to the ones you will find in my courses.

I find that students study a fair amount, but they often don’t study well. You can study better, you can study well. Spend more time thinking, spend more time questioning and reviewing. I think that this will greatly help your study habits and your study time. Don’t just spend the time doing it, spend the time thinking about it.

Some things that I have found successful over the years: I do take notes. Because the notes provide for me references to the materials and interesting things I want to review in the future, I can then later go back to my notes. 

As part of my profession, I often go to conferences quite a bit.  What is fascinating to me (to observe) is that most of the professionals go to the conferences to learn and observe and things and within a week or two they have pretty much forgotten what has gone on in the conference. Instead I take notes at the conference. The conference for me isn’t complete until I have assembled all of my notes together and then I will provide a summary page. I will think, “What were the three or four most important things I learned that I am really excited about, that I want to retain?” I will then provide in my summary page on the front references to where those materials are, websites I can look up, the names of readings, etc.

So as you are taking my course and other courses, don’t consider that course complete until you provide a summary of materials you consider valuable, things that you will return to in the future. As a college professor I have returned often to courses I had as an undergraduate student and graduate student. Because I have provided notes and some of these summaries—I didn’t do the summaries well as an undergraduate but later on I did—I am able to find the materials I want and to pull out those gems, those real jewels that I can then incorporate into my later teaching.

So I hope that you have found this helpful. Study smart, don’t study too much, study smart and think much more, review much more. Thank you.