Back when I was in school, I usually just listened to the teachers. Barely even opened my books, and for major tests and examns, I usually read the stuff once, sometimes twice if the material bored me to death and didn't cling into my brain. For chemistry, physics and math I never did any pre-learning work. I usually knew enough of that from attending classes.
When a grade for a class was getting on the low edge, I'd occasionally add a 4 hour block of study for any test in that class and got a high grade. This happened at most once a month. :P
Basicly, I did as minimal as possible, and aimed to to nothing more than I needed. In order to get more free time and have fun with friends and the like.
Homework I always did in class, unless I needed internet. In which case I'd do so at home, but usually so minimalistically (or blatantly straight off ctrl-c'd) that I never got good grades about that stuff.
I passed all my examns and all my classes. But when I look back now, I'm quite amazed at it. I was always sooooo close to the edge of insufficient grades, that it coulda just as easily backfired. :P
The thing is its part of your personal development to even get to the level in which you would have taken school more serious. Besides that complex contents for example I can nowadays understand more easily. Back then as a kid, when I heard about a topic the first time, I firstly needed some time to newly develop a mindset I havent had before at all.
So you have to see your development in relation to a lot of things. My grade average from school (that is 13 years of school in germany) was 2.9 on a scale from 1.0 - 4.0.
Thats not the best but in the light of all the other things I learnt in my youth while not concentrating on school and in the light of my personal development until today, I wouldnt change my past, I'ld do it exactly the same way again. + Given the fact that the dickheads from school back then are even worse dickheads nowadays, I can live with it .
University studies tho are a different topic. I am doing what I want there, so I got my few topics I like and always score with a grade of A or the equivalent a grade of 1.x in. Of course there are topics too that are not so intresting, in which I just try to pass the exam and then be gone with the wind.
I think in the end you have to consider your studies from the most practical PoV possible. Meaning you have to lay out for yourself what you actually learnt while studieing. And if you learnt how to drive car races, while you were going to school and you become a racing pilot later, I think you did everything the right way
"How dreadful!" cried Lord Henry. "I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable. There is something unfair about its use. It is hitting below the intellect." ~ Oscar Wilde - The picture of Dorian Gray
I wouldn't recommend my study habits to anyone but it works for me just fine.
With studying, I always do as much as is needed and as little as possible. And that may be, compared to other people, considered as doing very much studying.
In high-school, I didn't really study that much for everyday stuff. School was boring, everything was so easy, I went there, somehow got my things done, I graduated. I rarely did any homework at home, I managed to get it done at school or did it at the beginning of the next class. When I had to study for a test, I prepared a concise overview of the subject a few days before the test, went trough the material and aced the test/exam. I remember not even opening a single book to study for my final exams, I just went there to wing it, I was really sick of all the high school stuff.
I hate the feeling that I HAVE to study, that puts me off every time, so I'm a really lousy student because I only study for the tests/exams to get the credit points and be done with it. But since I have to do it in the university, I always prepare and there's no way I'm going to fail a class because doing the studying again and re-taking an exam/whatever is not an option. I value my time and sanity too much.
I can memorize things very easily when I write things through or see them (I can't call it eidetic memory because I have to make a conscious effort to memorize them by repetition over a fairly long time). I have to make an effort to really listen to the lecturers because my mind tends to wander and I can remember very little when I hear something in a lecture, unless it's something really funny or very interesting. In the university, when you have like 5 different lectures/seminars in a row in one day (one lasting 1,5 hours, with 30 minute breaks in-between), you get the feeling that it's best to get rid of all that junk in your brain the moment the lecture has ended.
With simpler subjects or subjects I happen to like, it's all about going through the material and winging it during the tests/exams. Then the pressure is off and things are really easy to remember.
This is what I do with subjects that are more difficult and not that interesting to me and have loads of material:
So, I usually go to all of the lectures and write down everything that I feel is important. I rarely go through any recommended additional material, unless it's a class I really like and I'm really interested in the subject. At the end of the semester, a few weeks before the exam, I go through all of the materials I wrote down, I get rid of all the unnecessary junk and prepare like 10 A4 or more pages of concise information, covering the most important aspects of the subject.
This is where things go crazy for other people But not for me. A few days before the exam I have to have complete silence, total concentration and I memorize those 10 or more pages line by line. It's not numb cramming because I have to make everything understandable to myself and I create all sorts of connections and visualize the text as I go through it, so in the end, I can recite the whole 10 pages by heart with no problems.
I never do all-nighters, and the most excruciating studying I had was for a really disgusting subject. 8 days straight, 10 hours a day, gnawing myself through the materials I wouldn't even recommend it to my worst enemy.
I feel that I have to do it with subjects I hate because I really get stuck/mind freeze when I can't remember the exact fact or I can only remember that I've seen it somewhere but can't exactly remember what it was and it's all downhill from there. So, during the exam, when I've memorized it all, I can access the information like different files in a computer, it's all hovering before my eyes. I have complete control over my memory.
It's an ineffective method when you're supposed to remember all the stuff after you take an exam, and that's exactly what makes me a lousy student because I get rid of the stuff the second I hand down the exam paper. But when you have like 10 exams to think about, it gets really disgusting and all you care about at that time is passing them.
General study habbits:
- Music on and off. If I'm writing an essay, I'll usually have music on. If I'm doing Math, I can't stand it. Sometimes I'll alternate between having music on and off every 15 minutes or so.
- Last minute. I have a horrible attention span (ADD when I was a kid, probably still have it to some degree), and I can't bring myself to study for subjects that don't interest me unless it's last minute. I do things like book it to catch a bus to go take a test while still reading the textbook. It's so bad for me that I don't even finish assignments the night before they're due sometimes, I'll set my alarm for 5 AM and dash to the library and finish papers and projects 2 hours before the class starts. I work best under pressure.
- I study in one huge chunk, as opposed to short bursts. If I try and do short bursts, I'll get too distracted and won't come back to it.
I usually take notes during class, and then use those notes and the textbook to review the concepts. Mindlessly doing tons of practice problems doesn't help me at all. Once I get the concept through other's example, I'm set, period. I usually try a few problems to make sure that I'm good though. I also go to my Math professor's office hours frequently to make sure I didn't miss anything important. Basically: I cram the textbook and class notes.
Basically I sleep during class and cram lecture notes and textbook examples that are posted online. I'll cram like nobody's business the day before the test, and usually see the prof in the morning to make sure I'm set. I don't really like science except for physics, which is basically applied math anyways.
English / Writing:
I love these assignments. I pretty much freely do them whenever I want, without worry, and without thinking. It just seems to come out good. If needed, I'll skim a supplemental reading quickly to pull some BS examples to make myself look more informed.
I'm a CS major, so obviously this is a huge part of my studying. Well...not really. I find that with programming and CS, you either get it or you don't. If you've already looked at the topic, tried it out, and seen the professor, and you still don't understand...then you're gonna have a fun test. I don't study much, they give us enough homework and labs so that I get a solid understanding of everything anyways. Studying here usually just confuses me more.
The probability that I was procrastinating when I was typing this post:
P(have big assignment due) = 0.6
P(posting on TypoC) = 0.2
P(having big assignment due | posting on TypoC) = 0.7
P(posting on TypoC | having big assignment due) = .......
I lay out what I need to know by topics. Then I read through course material, spongeing up anything I deem related to a topic. There is a moment when I just know that I have what I need covered. Sometimes I will write on what I know about the topics to see if I really know something, and if I'm able to explain it.