smart study tipsSmart study tips are at the core of success in school. Blending your style of study with your style of learning is a bonus. Here at Effective Study Tips, we think effective study IS smart studying. But what is the distinction between smart and effective? Perhaps there is none. If A is the same as B, then smart is the same as effective when it comes to studying. Or, perhaps, making smart choices as to how you study leads to (rather than is) effective study. In the end, any way you slice it, smart study is the precursor to effective study. So let me define some terms.

Smart Study Tips: Where it Begins

When I think of the term smart study tips, I think of a study plan that is geared directly to a student's learning style. If you are a logical/mathematical thinker, drawing mind-maps to illustrate a concept is likely to be lost on you. On the other hand, if you are a linguistic or visual learner, mind-maps are an ideal way to think about a concept. 

The core principle is to align your learning style to your style of studying. This, of course, requires you to discover your learning style. There are many online tools that help you think about your learning style. I think it is wise to take several of the learning style tests and then triangulate the results. Look for the commonalities and the differences and then build a model of your individual learning style.

A Smart Study Tips Experience

While a junior in high school, way back in the stone ages, we all were dreading the Junior Theme. We were to write a research paper on a topic selected from the humanities. Preferably it would be a critique of a single author, but so long as its foundation was in the humanities that was all that mattered. I chose to write a paper on the unification of Germany in the 19th century.

We had to have at least five references, follow the Chicago Style Book, and type the paper on a specific paper. We were to write notes on 3x5 note cards and turn in weekly drafts (handwritten) until the final paper was due. This all seemed overwhelming to me. Try though I might, taking notes on these 3x5 cards was torture. So I began to write notes in a standard, cardboard covered, composition book. I had one book for notes and another for references I read and cited.

I asked my English teacher if it was okay if I kept notes this way. He looked at me smiling, "Whatever makes you happy, Roger. Just make sure you can organize your thoughts for the final paper. No teacher ever gave me the freedom to study in a way that made sense to me. I have come to think of him as one of the better teachers I ever had. 

When it came time to organize my notes, I had large pieces of brown butcher paper laid out on my bedroom floor. I wrote dates, drew pictures representing events and even drew connecting lines to suggest successes and problems. I paid close attention to the comments Mr. G made on the drafts turned in. When the final graded paper was returned, there was a big A+ on the cover sheet. I was over the moon. This was a case where I was able to figure out a way to study smarter. All it took was to ask.

Effective Study is the Result

I will argue that the smart study decisions I made in my Junior year allowed me to study effectively. Not only did I learn about the motivations of German nationalists but Italian nationalists as well. I compared the process of unification of the German States with the similar process that was going on in Italy. There were, of course, similarities but there were cultural differences as well. If I had been restricted to the 3x5 note card system I don't think I would have made these connections. I would have been far too busy creating cards that were designed for a logical, well-organized mind. My style, as I have said before, was that of a linguistic/visual learner. Mr. G allowed me to pursue smart study which proved to be quite effective in the long run.

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