Study techniques – Niels Bohr Institute - University of Copenhagen

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Study techniques

In order to study efficiently it is benefitial to create healthy study habits. Here are some specific suggestions to help you organize and manage your work:

  • Pomodoro
  • Feynman
  • Cornell

Pomodoro

The Pomodoro technique is a method for time management where you break down work into intervals seperated by short breaks. You visualize your efforts by counting each interval to keep track of your habits and improve yourself. In this short introduction I embrace and stay true to the original concept but abandon certain traits that I don’t follow personally. You can read more about the technique in its original form here or here.

Tools

All you need is a watch and a set of tasks to do:

  • Set a timer for an interval of n minutes to work in and x minutes for a break after each interval.
  • After 3-4 repetitions take a longer break.
  • In each interval decide on a task and stay completely focused on the task at hand. In each break do whatever you feel like.
  • Record each interval you complete.

Modify the technique to suit your goals

The original method is to help you improve your efficiency and work goal oriented towards finishing one task at the time, but it is also an efficient method for simply minimizing distractions in order to work in longer periods at the time.

Use apps


Feynman

The Feynman Technique is a method for learning concepts thoroughly. Simply put you need to be able to explain a subject as simply as possible in order to actually understand the concept and not only have memorized it for convenience. Feynman was an American physicist and so his technique is usually used in technical or mathematical classes - but theres is no reason why it could not be used in non-technical classes.

The Feynman Technique in 4 short steps:

  1. Choose your concept
    Write the name of it on top of a blank paper
  2. Pretend you’re teaching it to a new student
    This is the crucial step of the method. Write it down on the paper as if you were explaining the subject to someone who didn’t understand it. Try to write as much as you can without help from your books. You will use this step to identify exactly what details you need to work on.
  3. Go to your books whenever you get stuck
    Whenever you hit a wall, go back to your books and re-read the material until you understand it well enough to continue the paper.
  4. Simplify and create analogies
    If you end up with complicated sentences or confusing explanations try to either simplify the language or create an analogy to understand it better.

Use this technique to

  • Finally learn something you are able to understand but keep forgetting
    Use this technique to create useful analogies or to simplify complex concepts.
  • Understand ideas you just don’t really ‘get’
    Walk through the steps slowly to identify your specific problems and arrange for someone to help you with them.
  • Prepare for an exam
    Try repeating step 2 until you can finish it without looking anything up in the textbooks. Create analogies and simplify your explanations if they are too technical. In this way you ensure actually learning the subject and not just memorizing it.

Cornell

Divide your paper into three sections as shown in the photo.

  • A: Write your lecture notes in this sections as usual.
  • B: Questions, headlines, main points, sudden ideas and observations here.
  • C: Sum up the lecture notes and the work short and concisely.

 


Sources, inspiration and references: