We’ve all heard the joke, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” It can be applied to many things. It could explain how to win lots of free money for college. Great grades, especially those in hard classes, help students earn college scholarships. But just like you wouldn’t be able to eat a whole elephant all at once; it’s impossible to digest an entire chapter, unit or course in one sitting.
Students do best when they study throughout the semester and not by cramming just before a test. I learned this when studying foreign languages in high school. Since I took more than one at a time, I realized I needed a system to keep the vocabulary and grammar straight in my head. So whenever the teacher wrote something on the board, I copied it into my notebook. When I went home at night, I turned this information into a chart or list. I kept it all in a reference section I created for each language in my notebook.
I studied these pages every night, except Friday (I kept Fridays for fun). At the end of each unit, I consolidated the grammar rules and other helpful tips I had accumulated. By the end of each unit, I was ready for the exam. By the end of the semester, I was ready for the mid-term. By the end of the school year, the final exam was a snap. But I didn’t stop there. The first week of summer vacation, I went through my notebook and threw away everything except for my reference sections. I reorganized them and put them away for the next level course for each language I would be taking in the fall.
I learned three foreign languages in bite sized chunks. This strategy worked in high school, and it worked in college. For especially difficult college courses, I not only used this method to keep up, but also joined study groups. Other students were surprised at my organized notes. Many in my study groups adopted my method. It works for languages, but it also works for other subjects. Cramming doesn’t. Learning small amounts at a time leads to higher grades and more scholarships.
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