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Monday, March 23, 2015

Study One Page A Semester

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What if you never needed to study more than a single page for your classes? How much easier do you think studying would be. It could save you hours and hours every single week. It would leave a ton of free time after studying. That is why I originally used this method in college. I was hoping it would have a dramatic impact on my final grade. Surprisingly, it did something much more interesting than that. I’ll get to that later.

If you’ve read this blog at all then you’re probably familiar with the tons of experiments I’ve done around studying. I’ve studied in more methods than I could name and with each one I did semi-controlled experiments to find to the absolute most effective ones. When I heard someone describing this method I’m discussing here, I got a little excited. It seemed to coincide with some of the most important study factors I was finding. It sounded like a super powerful method. After the experimentation, I found out it was but not how I expected.

So, without further ado, here is the study method:

Throughout each course, keep on extra sheet on lined paper. After each class, or chapter in your textbook, write down the absolute most important things on that single extra sheet of paper. Here’s the important part though: by the end of the semester, you cannot get a second sheet of paper to continue writing this. Just continue to add to this single sheet of paper.

You can get creative to try and write more and more information on that single sheet of paper. That’s actually part of the fun. By the end of the semester, you’re going to have the most important points for the class written on a single sheet of paper. I, personally, was able to study exclusively off of that single sheet of paper without it causing any negative effect on my expected grade.

This might sound a little crazy. I’ll get more into the details later but first, I think it’s worth going over why this method is awesome.


Why It Works


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This study method is a false restriction on the amount of information you need to study. In the average textbook there are hundreds of thousands of potential facts to memorize but in reality, the class probably only requires you to know a handful of them.

When you pick up the textbook to study, or your full class notes, you’re making the task of studying significantly more difficult than it has to be. You not only have to study the information but you’re forced to try and find the most important information to actually learn.

When that most important information is already decided, you don’t have to go through a list of unrequired facts again. That means your studying goes much easier. That does something even more important though.

When you reduce the information that you have to learn, you completely change the way you think about studying. When I was studying for that course, I never once felt overwhelmed having to learn the information on the page. That meant getting myself to study in the first place was unbelievably easy.

This method involves false restrictions on the amount of information you have to learn. That makes it much easier to learn the important stuff. It also does one more super important thing.

It ensure that you actually think about the class outside of class. You’re required to spend at least a few minutes after class narrowing down any important information that you received. That process involves a bit of studying in itself. It’s no surprise this method works because it actually requires you to put in a little bit of studying regularly.


Some Important Tricks


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This method of studying works very well. It can cause a very deep level of learning. While most of the study methods I recommend are quick fixes that don’t offer you “permanent stick-forever” learning. This is one of the methods that can really make information stick. Since you’re going over that same information regularly, it’s natural to remember it. Here is what you need to know and do to make the best of it.

Information Capsules:

At the earliest chance you get, create boxes on that single sheet of paper. Create the number of boxes based on the number of times you plan on updating that single page. If you plan on updating it once a class then make one box per class. (In high school, you may need to focus on one box per week or something.) Make those boxes as big as you can while still fitting them all on the page.

Then, each class, or each time you fill it out, make sure not to require more than the single box.

This ensures that late in the semester you’re not stuck using a tiny section of the paper for a large amount of information.

Single Sheet Is Variable:

If you’re taking an anatomy course or something ridiculously tedious, forget about the one sheet restriction. Some courses, mostly in college but not all college courses, have too much information to fit on a single sheet of paper.

Increase the number of sheets to something a little more reasonable. More reasonable means a couple more sheets, not a whole notebook. Personally, I couldn’t see a course requiring more than 4 sheets for a really good grade (as long as you’re filling in those margins well.)

There is one important note though: Plan the number of sheets in advance and do everything in your power not to increase that amount. The false restriction doesn’t really exist if you don’t actually plan to follow that false restriction. You won’t get half the benefits if you don’t treat your selected page limit seriously.

Teacher’s Emphasis:

In most courses, teachers are virtually giving away the test questions. Teachers have a tendency to lecture for the specific tests. Remember that whenever a teacher spends a significant amount of time on any particular point.

Given the choice of focusing on the textbooks emphasized points and the teacher’s emphasized points, always put the teachers points first.


The Results Of My Experiment


Here is the most interesting thing about this method. It actually taught me the information in the course really really well. While I’m all about using cheap tricks to score high in courses, this study method ended up getting the information to stick really well. That is actually one of the reasons I don’t use this method particularly often…

Here’s the deal: This is a great method for learning new information. That being said, it’s not the most efficient way to score high in a class. That means it doesn’t fit into my 15 minutes a night study strategy.

Are you looking to really understand the material in a course? Then this study method is absolutely great. If you’re looking to score high without investing much energy, this is an okay method. That being said, it requires a relatively large time investment when you add up all the single sheet updates.

Do you want to know how to study in less than 15 minutes a night? That’s what this blog is all about. Be sure to follow and check out the archives for the details. Also, check out the ebooks in the sidebar for a crash course.


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