Most of us were not born with the million dollar jump-shot or the billion dollar spoon in our mouths. Americans have to obtain a degree to achieve a quarter of the American dream. This is a difficult task in the world of distractions. We are distracted by the internet, 24 hour news and on-demand television. Two decades ago, you could plan your study time for after Saturday morning cartoons or at 10p.m when nothing was on TV but the news. Essentially, there is no good time to study anymore.
These 5 habits = success!!!
1. Turn off the music – Studies have shown that music can motivate you and keep your mind on sharp alert, especially if its music that makes you happy. According to a 2011 article by Passion Jun, M.D., Dr. Jun stated, “In the book, This Is Your Brain on Music, Daniel J. Levitin explains that listening to music first involves subcortical structures like cochlear nuclei, the brain stem, and the cerebellum. It then moves up to auditory cortices on both sides of the brain. And when you hear music, listening also involves the memory centers in the brain, such as the hippocampus and lowest parts of the frontal lobe.” And there lies the problem. You study to learn and to absorb but more importantly, you study for memory. If your brain is recalling the musical lyrics to your favorite song or focusing on listening to the music, it is using the portion of your brain that you need for studying the formulas in geometry or the elements of a crime for your law class. The brain is a fantastic tool, but it works best when you are NOT multitasking. So turn off the music!!
2. Find your learning style – I highly recommend taking the test to determine your learning style. Do you learn better listening, maybe using audio? Do you learn better teaching others? Do you learn better using pictures? Or are you a learner that requires all three? This test is generally available in all universities and graduate schools. You should make an appointment with your counselor or find a simple test online. I fought my results in my first semester of law school. My test results stated that I learned better in group settings where I was able to teach and engage in back and forth discussions about the reading. But I hated people, so how could that be true? Turned out that I didn’t hate people, in fact, I became a tutor in law school and really enjoyed group discussions with my peers. Once I embraced my learning style, my GPA shot up.
3. Active reading – In law school, reading 100 pages for homework was a light day. The language in the casebooks were foreign to me in my first year. It appeared to be English, but to me it was Russian. I stumbled understanding the terms and the flow of the sentences. Once I picked up a pencil and began writing in my law books, (yes I know they cost a million dollars) I was able to understand the language and the rhythm. So what is active reading? Active reading is just using simple techniques to fully engage in the reading process. If you are reading text that is complex, the best technique is to highlight, circle or underline, words that you need to define. If you see a word in a sentence that you do not know the meaning to, even if you can figure out using context clues; don’t, you want to stop, look up the word and then “dumb down” the sentence after you define the word. Write it in the book or in your notebook. This technique avoids drifting off while you are reading or becoming uninterested in the text. Your brain is on full alert during this process.
4. Study the same time every day – Building a habit is very important, in fact, building good habits = success in every area of your life. Find a time in your day when you are not busy. This time may be 3 hours or just 45 minutes, but make sure you are studying during that time. It doesn’t mean you can’t study before or after, it just means that from 3-4:30 everyday your brain is prepared to absorb facts and figures. Your brain will signal to you that you are suppose to do something when that time comes, similar to your need for coffee at 6AM every morning. Imagine becoming addicted to studying or learning. That is an addiction that can make you successful and prevent you from developing Alzheimers.
5. I’m sure you can guess this one. Sleep!! You are allotted 24 hours in a day. Unless you are the President of the United States and are receiving calls from the middle east at 2AM, you can find 6-8 hours in a day to sleep. Think of your brain like your Iphone. Sure it can go for days without rest or downtime, but what happens to your Iphone if you don’t turn it off or reboot it? You guessed it! $600.00 out the window. You need to take care of your brain and the best care is sleep!
If you are in law school or interested in attending law school, there is a free, fun, interactive app on Google Play Store, ‘Law School Trivia App‘.
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