Getting Ready for Final Exams – How to Study “4.0”

Posted by Neal Schwartz on May 04, 2023


Have we been taught the wrong way to study for all these years?

For high school students It’s the season for AP tests, finals, and tests like the SAT and ACT. But college and graduate school students are also going through the same study motions.

Notecards, crib sheets, highlighting, isn’t that what we are supposed to do?

A NY Times Opinion article “There Are Better Ways to Study That Will Last You a Lifetime” challenges the way most of us learned to study. The premise, offered by author Daniel T. Willingham: “Students get studying wrong because they don’t assess whether a method works in the long run. Instead, they pay attention to whether the method is easy to do and feels like it’s working while they’re doing it.”

Willingham’s focus in his assessment is that the superficial nature of how most students study, rereading notes, or textbooks, doesn’t get to the most effective goal of understanding the meaning of the content.

“And so, as students reread their textbooks, the increasing familiarity makes them think they are learning. But because they are not thinking about the meaning of what they read, they aren’t improving the knowledge that actually builds understanding.”

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Topics: college test prep, high school senior, high school junior, high school sophomore, college freshmen, high school freshman, study habits, final exams

Pick up these essential study habits before college

Posted by Neal Schwartz on April 19, 2022

Essential Study Habits for College


We don't expect high school to look like college but taking a closer look at some of the core differences can be extremely valuable. Simply put, students' high school study habits may not always be applicable to college. But if you start early, you'll be able to make small adjustments to make a big difference. Some of the main differences between high school and college are the amount and type of coursework and frequency and length of classes. So, it's important to refine habits to apply to this new context. 

First of all, generally in high school, courses are everyday, which makes for a more consistent rhythm of studying. However, college courses can just be once or twice a week, so that means homework and readings will not be due immediately and there will likely be less "regular" work. This can be a trap to students who think that less work means less effort needed. However, the work given in college often requires more research, reading and preparation and cannot just be done last minute. So, procrastinators will have to set a schedule for themselves to complete work thoroughly and on time.

Next, the type of work is different. Worksheets and quizzes can be replaced by essays, which requires students to integrate multiple skills and not just memorize facts. Readings are much longer, and students are expected to complete them quickly, without chapter-by-chapter guidelines. The difference between reading a chapter at a time for a discussion and a whole book is that there is a lot more of a chance to get off course. So, it's helpful to make outlines of the main points of each chapter to simplify the process.

A lot of students blindly re-read texts and highlight or underline here and there and consider that "studying." However, this way of revising is passive and doesn't test students' comprehension, but merely their recognition of things they've seen before. Instead of being able to explain what a character's role is in a text, rereading just allows students to recall surface-level details.

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Topics: college counseling, transition to college, college planning, study habits


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