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Efficient Learning Strategies

Favourable Learning Environment


Choose your study space

  • It is advisable to always study in the same study place, e.g. the same room, the same desk etc.
  • Be sure to take breaks and leave your study place to do that.


Schedule your study time

  • Find the time of the day that suits you best for studying.
  • Try to study at the same time every day – make a date with yourself. Stick to that schedule to avoid unnecessary readjustments.


Take breaks

  • Breaks are necessary and will improve your performance.
  • Before you take a break, determine how long it will be.
  • When on break, try to do something that is as different as possible from the subject you are studying.
  • During your breaks, don’t do anything you might not be able to stop (e.g. watching a movie or reading a crime novel you can’t put down).


Take care of your body

  •   Follow a healthy and balanced diet.
  •   Working out is highly recommended, even during your breaks. 
  •   Get enough sleep to recharge your batteries.


Plan your coursework

  • Make an overall plan for the entire term.
  • Allocate time and resources for lectures, tutorials, and exams.


How to plan your time for your upcoming exam

  • Start by compiling everything you need to learn
  • Do a study test run for 3 to 5 days to answer the following questions:
    • For how many hours a day can you study?
    • On average, how many pages can you cover in those hours?
  • Specific planning
    • How long do you need to go through all the material once?
    • How long do you need to review this material?
    • How much time do you need for a final revision before the actual exam?
  • Time cushion
    • Plan for some additional time in case unforeseeable/unavoidable situations occur.
  • Detailed planning
    • Make a weekly plan that determines the rough study plan for the upcoming week. Based on that, you can break it down to a daily plan. Since some topics are more difficult than others, we recommend planning the amount of hours you want to study and not the number of pages you want to cover. In either case, your daily study goal must be achievable. 

Inaccurate planning 

If you are not meeting your daily goals, you need to ask yourself what went wrong in your planning. In case your daily study goal is unachievable, create a new plan and be realistic about your goals.


Learning methods 

When you start studying, try to keep your goals in mind and to be determined and confident – and you’ll be off to a good start. For best results, show an active interest for the subject matter.
The PQ4R method is a good way of doing this. It has been developed for learning a new chapter in a text book. (Preview - Questions - Read - Reflect - Recite, Review)

Start by getting an overview of the chapter you are studying and get an idea of what it is about (structure and headings).

Next, ask yourself the following questions:
What do the headings tell you?
Which content do you expect?
What is important?

Then, read the chapter actively, keeping in mind the questions you had previously asked yourself. The goal is to reach a good understanding of what the chapter is about.

This step is all about associating the information you have just read with knowledge you already have.

Recite the information you have just read either by saying it out lout or in your head, without looking at the book. If you can’t remember everything, re-read the chapter and recite the information again.

As a last step, go through the facts once again in your mind and focus on the key elements as well as on the questions you asked and found answers to.


How to memorize information

PLEASE NOTE: Since there are only a few generally valid rules, ultimately everybody has to find the study techniques that work best for them.

  • It is not uncommon to forget what you have just learned. Therefore, we recommend reviewing the material in depth shortly afterwards.
  • The sooner you do this review, the better because you will need fewer repetitions to commit the material to memory.
  • Even if you have learned something thoroughly, you might end up forgetting it. Luckily, it is usually easy and quick to reactivate existing knowledge.
  • The more detailed the material is, the more time you will need to spend reviewing it.



The do’s and don’ts of efficient learning

Not helpful for efficient learning

Helpful for efficient learning

Passive reading

 Active learning: asking questions about the material and finding the correct answers

Getting lost in detail

Distinguishing between important and less important elements

Skipping revisions

Doing periodic reviews of the material during your study time

Visual content recognition

Articulating the information as needed

Getting sidetracked

Resisting distractions

Random learning without any plan or time structure

Creating and following a study plan until the day of exam

Studying only when you are in the mood

Studying regardless of your mood