Effective Listening

Learning requires listening. Learning effectively requires effectively
listening. Even though listening is one of the most important skills for
effective learning most students are not good listeners. Since most of what you
are required to learn in school is going to be communicated to you by a teacher
or professor, it is imperative that you learn to listen. Don’t make the mistake
of thinking that hearing and listening are the same thing – they are very
different. When you listen to what someone saying you are not only hearing what
they are saying you are also processing what they are saying.

The following are tips for improving your ability to listen:
Listen for meaning

Pay attention not only to the words being spoken by your teacher but to the
thoughts and messages they convey. Identify the main idea, concept or subject
being addressed and the relating issues. Listen for explanations, descriptions
and clarifications. Again, don’t just hear the words. Listen to the meanings
being communicated.

Adjust your note taking style to the lecture

Poor listeners try to write down everything, believing a detailed outline and
effective notes are the same thing. They get frustrated when they cannot see
the meaning behind what they are writing down or they go to review their notes
and don’t understand the concepts that were taught in class. Effective
listeners adjust their note-taking to the lecture style. They listen to what is
important, they try to understand concepts and they take notes that clarify,
organize and reiterated important details of the lecture.

Tackle difficult to understand material

Frequently, when a teacher starts to lecture on a topic or concept that is
difficult to understand students stop listening. They are hearing what the
teacher is saying but they are not processing the information they are hearing.
Effective listeners tackle difficult material and expend the brain power
required to process what they are hearing even when it is difficult.

Concentrate and pay attention

Poor listeners frequently are poor concentrators. Effective listening requires
that you concentrate and pay attention. Remove all thoughts of home, friends,
fun and ancillary activities from you head while the teacher is speaking.
Learning to focus and concentrate will help you become an effective listeners
and much more effective student.

Be prepared

It is difficult to listen and mentally process what you’re hearing when you
come to your class unprepared. If your teacher gives you a reading assignment
or homework designed to prepare you to understand a topic it’s important that
you are familiar with the topic before it is discussed in class. Being ready to
listen means being prepared for each class ahead of time.

Focus on what’s important

Poor listeners focus on fact. They may retain a few of those facts, but the
information is usually garbled. Effective listeners focus on main ideas,
fundamental concepts and vital issues.

Choose to be interested

One of the most telltale signs of a poor listeners is that they just can’t find
what the teacher is talking about to be interesting. As a consequence they
don’t listen with real intent and often miss important topics and details being
addressed. Good listeners are able to decide to be interested in the subject
matter being addressed by the teacher. As a result they listen more intently
and effectively.

Dealing with Test Anxiety

It’s completely normal to experience anxiety at some time or another – we all do. And while we may not enjoy feeling anxious a little bit of anxiety can be beneficial. A little bit of anxiety helps to keep you motivated, focused and alert. However, too much anxiety may interfere with your ability to study, learn, remember things and perform well when taking tests. Too much an anxiety about taking tests is referred to as test anxiety.

The following are a few tips for dealing with too much test anxiety:

  • Develop good study habits. Good study habits will not only prepare you to address test material but they will also provide you with confidence that will help to reduce unhealth test anxiety.
  • Be prepared.   Being totally prepared for a test is the most important thing you can do to reduce anxiety. Knowing that you know the material on the test will provide you the confidence you need to overcome anxiety and the ability to perform.
  • Don’t cram!    Cramming for tests can leads to text anxiety. If you’ll prepare for your test ahead of time you’ll be able to reduce a lot of test anxiety associated with last minute cramming.
  • Get adequate exercise.    Getting adequate exercise and staying in shape is believed to help sharpen the mind.
  • Get plenty of sleep.  Getting a good night’s sleep before an exam can help reduce test anxiety dramatically. Not getting a good nights rest before an exam will make you tired while taking an exam and will lead to increased test  anxiety.
  • Get plent to eat.  Don’t take an exam on an empty stomach. Its common not to want to eat before an exam due to anxiety. However, if you’ll get a good meal before taking an exam you’ll experience less anxiety and you’re mind will be more keen.
  • Stay positive.   Don’t focus on failing the test. Focus on acing the test and you probably will. Thinking about what might happen if you fail will lead to unecessary anxiety and just might become a self fulfilling prophecy.
  • Focus on the learning experience Don’t think of a test as the final judgement. Instead view each test as a learning experience and you’ll get much less stressed out.
  • Stay relaxed.  Take slow, deep breaths and stay in control.

Study Skills 101

Improving Your Note Taking

Learning how to take good notes in class is an important part of study preparation. If you don’t take good notes in class you won’t know what to study once class is over.  Effective note taking is one of the keys to effective studying. Most successful students, whether they be in high school or college, are excellent note takers.

The following tips can help you take effective notes:

Make clear and accurate notes
Clearly written, accurate notes help to capture information for later study and review.

Come to class prepared
There is nothing that will help you take better notes than coming to class prepared, make sure that you have read all assigned readings and have reviewed your notes from the previous class.

Compare your notes
When class is over compare your notes to those taken by other students.

Minimize distractions
Remove any distractions that keep you from concentrating on class lectures and taking notes.

Organize your notes
Start each class with a clean sheet of paper.  Put the day’s date at the top of your notes along with any other relevant information (i.e. history notes, chemistry notes, etc.)

Use abbreviations and symbols

Use short sentences and phrases and easily remembered abbreviations and symbols in order to make sure you’re able to keep up with the lecture.

Write clearly
It doesn’t matter how many notes you can take if you can’t make sense of your notes after the lecture is over.

Review your notes
Review your notes as soon as you can. Reviewing your notes directly following a lecture will make sure that you understand your notes and lecture and will help you to concrete in your mind the concepts and information you learned.

Write down questions
Make sure to write down any questions you have or concepts you didn’t completely understand so that you can go back after class and ask the teacher specific