How to Study Smarter!

Updated: Dec 5, 2019


By Faith Okoko— Good grades, we all want them but are we doing enough to get them and is our enough efficient? The Business Leadership Club invited Dr. Lonna Murphy, a psychology professor at Passaic County Community College who has done extensive research about memory, to provide insights about studying. The event was “How to Study Smarter!” and it took place on Thursday, November 14th at 1:30 pm in the Hamilton Club building. In attendance, were Professor Cox the chair of the business department, Club advisor Professor Khloud Kourani, Business Leadership Club members and other students. The tips she provided will be helpful given finals are around the corner. One thing to remember is that human memories are distorted and inaccurate because we still have hunter gatherer brains.

What is the first step to getting good grades? Apparently, going to class tops the list and there are a couple of reasons why. It helps with knowing the material that is important to the instructor. Moreover, most teachers simplify information in class and make it palatable. There is also something called context affect, which establishes that the environment impacts our memory of an event so that learning something in a classroom setting may help the brain remember. It is the reason why people sometimes forget what they have heard when they walk through a door.

Once in class, it is important to engage. Readiness to listen, asking questions and making connections can all help in the retrieval of material later. Professor Murphy explained that the more that is done in class, the less that will have to be done at home. Picking classes can also influence grades. She remarked that a diverse course schedule can help with focus and taking two challenging and similar classes together, such as biology and chemistry, is not a wise decision. She also revealed, it is impossible to focus for more than two hours in class.

In addition, she talked about note taking. Thinking about what the notes are for, including memory cues for later, writing in your own words and deep processing all help. Highlighting is counterproductive. It is important to pay attention when taking notes and ask the questions, why is the teacher saying this and what does this mean? Also, taking the words of the instructor seriously is paramount because if he is talking about something, it must be important.

What about actual studying? She made known her hatred for flashcards because oftentimes they focus on definitions and do not involve critical thinking. According to Professor Murphy, it is important to understand and not just memorize because an education is more than good grades alone. She also made it clear that human beings are not multitaskers and listening to music while studying is not a good idea. Furthermore, those who start studying early and do it in small chunks, for example thirty minutes a day, instead of cramming one day to the exam fare better because they get to interact with the material longer.

Studying smarter is bound to be helpful because the countdown to finals and the spring semester has begun. For more information about the Business Leadership Club – BLC, contact club advisor Professor Kourani at BLC@pccc.edu

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