Working through all the stages of the Study Pyramid prepares you to express your knowledge more accurately and with greater ease.
a. Time Planning: The first stage is Time Planning and includes climate organization, or creating an environment conducive to study. You start with course syllabi and translate assignments onto short and long-term calendars. Working with the Time Traveler's Guide and Project Planning Guide, pinpoint, sketch out or analyze the steps involved in completing assignments. What really helps is to determine how long it takes to read a page of text for each style of text. These estimates make it possible to more realistically predict the amount of time needed to complete reading assignments, including reviews. Working backwards from the due dates, you know when the steps of the tasks should be started. Time planning works best if you monitor your practice and make appropriate adjustments. Your study area can also be organized to achieve the greatest efficiency by removing distractions, providing good lighting, and making sure all the needed materials are close at hand. More guidelines for time management...
b. Reading Strategy and Notetaking: Next, choose the best way to complete the assignment. Reading strategies or study skills should be used at this point (i.e., RAP, SQ3R, REAP) in combination with notetaking methods (i.e. Cornell). While reading the text and reviewing lecture notes, highlight key words, major questions and issues, and create lists of data (terms, dates, names, procedures) to be learned.
c. Test Preparation: Getting ready to take a test usually involves reviewing, highlighting and consolidating essential information from class and text notes onto summary sheets using the Cornell method (or your own method). The details on the right side of the sheets are covered so you can test yourself by answering the questions or explaining the main ideas in the left-hand column. Study is continued until there is no need to look back at the details to check the answer.
If certain data resist being called up from memory, you can list those items and create mnemonic devices for them. Devise test questions at this stage, and answer them as fully as possible.
d. Test Taking: In order to prove your knowledge, you benefit from having a certain testwiseness that involves concentration and calmness. It is a lot easier to be calm and concentrated if you've been engaged with the first three steps of the Study Pyramid. Concentration, visual imagery, self-talk strategies, along with breathing exercises, are effective in dealing with test anxiety, when needed.
While first beginning the test, write down mnemonic devices to remember essential concepts and terms on fresh scratch paper. Next, read the test questions carefully, analyze the meaning of language in phrases, and thoughtfully reflect upon your answers before writing to improve the quality of responses.
On objective type tests, read the sentence stem and bring to mind the best answer from your study, then read the possible answers, and choose the one that most closely matches the initial intuition.
Essays should be written out only after organizing ideas and information using an outline or diagram form. This is where a judgment must be made about how much of what to include to produce the best possible answer; the student should avoid both the minimalist "get by" approach and the "pad the answer" technique. You can intelligently include fresh ideas, perspectives and important information that may interest the reader by doing your own thinking on the issue and by drawing out relevant connections. Trust your own ability to gather ideas and reason.
Keep an eye on the time in order to be able to reread your essay and make final changes.
If you continue to have difficulties at any stage listed in the Study Pyramid please speak with a tutor, instructor, counselor or specialist.
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