Developing Good Study Habits

Tip # 4:                        Osmosis or Notes?

Osmosis is a term used in Biology that means, simply put, passive transportation.  A simple example of osmosis is what happens when a tea bag is put into hot water.

Too many times I see students just reading their textbooks.  They call that studying.  There is this idea that if one passively looks at the book and reads it enough times, the words and the knowledge will transfer from the book to the brain.  With this kind of information transferal, only a small percentage will ever stay in the brain.  In fact what often happens is that you end up not reading, but rather day dreaming or falling asleep.  Your mind drifts away from the text and you think about other things, or close your eyes.

If you want to learn a lot from your Science or English (whatever the subject) books, then you need to use a different method for studying.  The recommended way is to take notes.

First of all take notes in class.  In my English language classes I see many students, children and adults alike, who do not take notes.  These passive learners often do poorly in the exam.  I encourage my students to take notes because I know they cannot remember all that has been said.  The notes that you take in class will be sketchy, very brief; you may even have gaps in your notes of things that you forgot to write down or couldn’t write down fast enough before the teacher went on to another point.

Therefore when you get home you should study by rewriting your notes.  Have a separate notebook for this.  Take your scribbled, rushed, classroom notes and write them out neatly and in a proper order.  By redoing your notes you will be able to fill in the gaps you missed in class.  You will also refresh your memory.  This is the place to draw diagrams, do outlines, etc. so you can remember what you learned in class.  Rewriting your notes daily, the same day you have taken the classroom notes, is the best way to study your notes.  You will find that by doing this, you will have retained a lot of information.  You now also have a good set of study notes to refer to later on.

Outside of notes being a good study and retention tool, notes will also give you a record of information that has been discussed in class and is not in the book.  Many teachers will also include classroom, not just textbook, information on the exam.

Also, while you are studying from a text, have pen and paper in hand and write down the important points, vocabulary, etc.  Even draw diagrams showing the interrelationship between objects, terms, etc.  If you are a visual learner, then a drawing or diagram is an excellent way to remember information.  By taking bullet notes, jotting down important points, making diagrams and etc. you are actively learning and concentrating on your textbook material.

By taking notes you will not memorize the subject material, you will recall the information.  Memorizing allows you to remember information for the short term, recall means you have placed that information in the long term memory category of your brain.  Long term memory is where you want it.

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