Mastering academic techniques is essential for students. Each student must memorise a large amount of information, which includes dates, names and notions.
Many study techniques have been developed throughout history. From the oldest to the most recent ones, in this article I want to give you some that are simple but effective. When I apply them to my study, they prove to be incredibly useful.
1: The “loci” technique
“Loci” is a Latin word which means “places”. According to various sources, this method was used by many orators of ancient Rome to remember their speeches. The loci technique is excellent to apply both to your studies and in everyday life, for example when you have to do a speech in public.
To apply the loci technique you should first think of a place or itinerary that you can visualise in your head very clearly. Any place that has clear landmarks is fine.
Once you have identified the familiar place and the reference points contained there, you will have to proceed to associate the reference points to the information in order to be memorised. Information can then be transformed into "keywords".
Imagination is everything in this technique: once the preliminary operations have been completed, imagine yourself in the first part of the journey and associate the first keyword identified with it. Proceed in this way for all the stages, by continuing to associate the other keywords.
When you have to review the chapter you have just studied, or when you proceed to an oral presentation during assessment, you should retrace all the stages of the path, by recalling the key concepts that you have associated with them.
2: Words of velcro
The velcro word technique, also called peg words, can be used to memorise lists that need to be remembered in a well-defined order.
This method involves associating concepts that we know well and cannot forget (the numbers 1 to 20, for example) with new concepts to remember in that specific order.
For example, if we want to memorise the planets in order of proximity to the Sun:
The velcro represents a sort of hook, to which the information to be stored can be attached. The velcro or peg is therefore a reminder that can help remember the new concept.
Clearly there is not just a single method of study and it is not something rigid; on the contrary, the ideal would be to have a certain flexibility, as to find the most suitable learning method for you.
The following points may also be useful when studying:
- Active listening: this study method does not only include the actual study phase but starts from listening to the lessons. Dedicate yourself to actively listening to the lessons and write down the questions to ask the tutor on some paper.
- Take notes: Notes during the lesson are essential to facilitate learning. Mark only the most relevant information, perhaps writing down the keywords and concepts to be explored.
- Textbooks: Make sure you have all the material you need to study and integrate notes and information from the books. Create your concept maps to synthesise information and have everything to hand.
- Repeat aloud: repeating what you have studied aloud helps you to listen to yourself, and to understand if you have really assimilated certain concepts.
- Exposure: when you find yourself in exams or assessments, be confident and try to leave the anxiety behind.
Always remember that organisation and planning are at the basis of successful study: organise your learning well, by dividing the program to be studied over several days and then calculating the time to dedicate to each part (factoring in the potential for unforeseen events). At the same time, make sure you give yourself breaks. It is better to start early and study a little everyday than constantly studying just before your assessment.
Remember to also have fun by dedicating time to the activities you enjoy. You could spend time with friends, go for a walk in nature, go to the cinema or go for a run. These are perfect ways to switch off and will help you to return to your desk with a stronger sense of motivation!
Giulia studies the BSc Business Administration in Italy.