I have been wondering on this question since high school. Sometimes my studying method worked, sometimes it was counterproductive.
Divide method into three:
environmental, physiological and cognition.
Environmental is simple, only one key- no distraction. No noise, good lighting, good chair, changes sitting position if you feel uncomfortable, if is even fine to shake around. As long as you are good, and able to concentrate.
Physiologically, studying is a work to be done. We need fuel and a good machine- not just the brain but a good and comfortable body.
Therefore adequate nutrients like nuts, banana helps the brain to obtain enough neurotransmitter to function,
For the body, a full stomach get rids of distraction thinking when to eat next; optimum sleep keeps the brain from exhaustion. It is best to practice routinal sleeping habit, best sleeping time is by 11pm. You will be surprised how well the brain functions like a BMW car engine compare to Proton which slept at 2am.
Cognition, is more towards the abstract part.
To learn, means to register, interpret, storage and recollection.
To register we need to know what it is all about. Memory starts to form the minute we read the first sentence about a topic. It is best to tell the brain where exactly to store them so that the remaining 30 pages of texts storage goes easily where they belong.
Start with a frame work, for example, a surgery topic about thyroid gland. Read through the outline of subheadings like anatomy, Physiology, clinical presentation of hypo and hyperthyroidism, history taking, examination, management and investigation. From this we just told ourselves that ok, so there are 7 things we need to know about thyroid. Get a simple description about each subtopic. Just a grasp of the concept is good enough. This so call mind map will help the brain allocate subsequent incoming information easier. Same goes to reading the content of a book before starting it.
This can be done on the night before a lecture, where we just briefly flip through pages.
Next understand the whole thing thoroughly without rushing to memorize.
What is it all about. Memory is hard to lose unless we did not understand what is it all about at the first place. Thus the brain does not know how to register it.
This is done in lectures.
Thirdly, interpret in a logical manner to form connection between each facts and examples. It can be in your own way, as long as it makes sense. Try to identify key word and highlight them in the brain. This further prompt the connection between each subtopic and in them. The key is logical connection. It will be helpful to relate with previous memory or simply daily examples.
Finally, now we understand and so call learnt about the chapter.
It is time to organize the points in order for easy storage. In the sense, to memorize it. Pneumonic, graphic, sound, anything is great as long as it works for you. Personally, my memory very well with demonstration. So I like to explain it to my friend just to hear myself saying it again, and to clear any doubts I might have missed. My visual memory of the experience taking to friends stays quite well.
Now the memory is formed as a recent one in our brain.
Repeat it as much as possible to make it into long term memory. Use it in daily examples, discuss, practice and teach others. Practice makes perfect. It goes on days, months, years, and one day a once tough topic might just sound as easy as nursery rhymes to you.
That’s how our professors made it. Hah!
The 2-5 steps may not happen in the same sequence as sometimes, we might just remember the list but do not understand until the 55th times we talk about it and it goes like Owh! That’s what it all about!
What is your method? 🙂