Thursday, 5 March 2015

8. How much studying is enough?

Studying comes in various forms. In fact, we as students do it more often than we think. We are studying when listening and taking down notes during lectures, when we pre-read and post-read (for those of us who find it helpful), even when we discuss certain concepts with fellow students! The question now is: how much is enough?

Lectures: how much is enough?

In the blog post titled “Note-taking and note-making – effective?”, I share how pre-reading helped me make lectures useful: I was familiar with the sections lectured when the lecturers lectured them, and that together with the insight of lecturers made it easier for me to make summary notes during lectures. This helped to minimize my study time. However, the challenge I had was understanding only certain sections of work lectured instead of everything. This leaves me with this question: how much of what I grasped in lectures was enough?

Pre-reading and post-reading: how much is enough?

After I started pre-reading, I realized how it helped me get a general overview and some insight of what was to be taught in lectures to avoid getting completely lost during lectures. It gave me an opportunity to identify those complex sections that I did not understand during pre-reading, so that I could pay closer attention during lectures when they were covered. Post-reading helped me to ascertain whether or not I understood the chapter/(s) that was/were covered, and gave me the opportunity to focus on the areas that I still did not understand after lectures.

· Pre-reading

Through my experience with pre-reading, I felt that many chapters were very long and pre-reading the whole chapter effectively before that particular lecture was not always possible. There were many other topics to consider for all other modules that also needed attention, and considering my other commitments, I could not make time to pre-read everything all the time.

When I had limited time to pre-read, I pre-read what I could. Of course it may not seem beneficial to pre-read if one won't finish the chapter, but that little pre-reading could mean a reduction in our future study time - but was it enough?

· Post-reading

With regards to post-reading – when I could spend the whole duration for which I had planned to post-read, I went over what was covered in the lecture on that day. There were times when I did not thoroughly go over what was covered, sometimes I did not even go over everything - but was that enough?

In addition to post-reading, lecturers also recommended practising of questions for application of the theory – particularly for the Accounting course I was enrolled into. Moreover, practising of questions helped to practise formulation of answers. This is a concern lecturers raised. I had to consider how much of that was enough, because I did not always have or make enough time to complete all the recommended questions for all modules.

Discussions with fellow students: how much is enough?

I only went as far as asking fellow students about something I did not understand, not very much engaging in discussions with them about certain chapters/topics. Time has always been a factor that I was concerned about, because I felt that discussions would take too long while there was more studying to be done and other commitments to attend to. One fellow student, Sisonke Dangazela, shared on the Facebook page of the blog that she discussed topics with other students to get their perspective when it was convenient for all parties to do so. Discussions with fellow students does contribute to better understanding and is part of studying, but how much is enough?

So, what is enough?

One way I can think of to determine how much studying is enough, enough just to pass or enough to get those results we are aiming for, is by going through our answer scripts. Going through our answer scripts of tests written in the past, and investigating where and why marks were lost, may help to determine whether or not we studied enough, and what changes to consider in our study strategy.

I went through the term tests I wrote during my final year of undergraduate studies, and some of the reasons I discovered for losing marks are as follows:

1. Forgetting a section of work because of not revising it before the test (or because it was in temporary memory), thus not able to answer the question.

2. Being overwhelmed/anxious because of being in test condition, or because of time pressure to finish the paper, which led to not finishing the paper.

3. Not knowing a section to which the question relates because of my negligence to read or study that section during the term/semester.

4. Not being familiar with how to answer a question because of not having practised questions of that section of work during the term/semester.

Such reflections on tests written in the past may help to identify solutions to avoid such issues and to be better prepared for the next tests – even for the final exams.
So, have you written a test recently? How did you feel when you wrote it? Did you get satisfactory results? Have you concluded whether your study strategy works for you?
If not, have you considered what the problem might be? Have you found a solution?

Share your concerns, experiences and/or additional advice pertaining this topic on the comments section below.

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Thank you so much for your time and consideration. Until next time :)

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