Studying for Non-Technical Courses

Non-technical courses are all those that are not focused on formulas and equations (that is, any course that isn’t math, science, economics or engineering, etc).

The following study strategy is the best one I've come across, because it maxmizes your time so you study only on the topics that are difficult for you.

All night cram sessions can be replaced by only a few hours of prep, and a few hours of practice quizzing.

Step 1: Prepare Your Materials

  1. Take all class notes, assignments and reading notes and arrange them in separate folders by major topic.

  2. For each file folder, produce practice quizzes by compiling the Questions from all your Question-Evidence-Conclusion notes from lectures and readings.

  3. Prepare flashcards for the memorization needed for the content in each folder.

  4. If possible, acquire a previous exam for the course. (These are often found either from the department or professor, or from the student union, library or campus copy shop.)

Step 2: Actually Study

  1. Use your practice quizzes and force yourself to write down or say aloud the answers for each question.
    * This important – simply thinking answers doesn’t embed them as quickly and strongly in your memory as if you write or speak them.

  2. After doing the quiz once, mark the questions you had difficulty with, and review the relevant notes to remind yourself of the Evidence and Conclusions. Then take a break.

  3. Do the quiz again, but work only on the questions you had difficulty with. At the end of this run through, note again the questions that you still had trouble with, and review their notes, and then take a break.

  4. Continue until you finish a round without having trouble with any of the questions.

  5. Finally: memorization works best in small doses, so practice your flash cards when waiting in lines, or sitting on buses.

This study method is taken from How to Become a Straight A Student by Cal Newport. Great book.