Studying: Then and Now

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Studying: Then and Now

One June day, I staggered into a high school classroom to take my final exam in United States History IV. I had made my usual desperate effort to cram the night before, with the usual dismal results—I had gotten only to page 75 of a 400-page textbook. My study habits in high school, obviously, were a mess, but in college, I've made an attempt to reform my note-taking, studying, and test-taking skills. The first thing I tried to improve in college was note-taking.

I took notes in high school classes but I often lost interest as compared to my note- taking at college. Note taking in high school classes often began with doodling, drawing Martians, or seeing what my signature would look like if I married the guy in the second row. Now, however, I try not to let my mind wander, and I pull my thoughts back into focus when they begin to go fuzzy. In high school, my notes often looked like something written in Arabic. In college, I've learned to use a semi-print writing style that makes my notes understandable. When I would look over my high school notes, I couldn't understand them. There would be a word like "Reconstruction," then a big blank, then the word "important." Weeks later, I had no idea what reconstruction was or why it was important. I've since learned to write down connecting ideas, even if I have to take the time to do it after class. Taking notes is one thing I've really learned to do better since high school days. Another area that I needed to concentrate on was my method of studying.

Ordinary studying during the term is another area in which I've made changes. In high school, I let reading assignments go. I told myself that I'd have no trouble catching up on 200 pages during a 15-minute ride to school. College courses have taught me to keep pace with the work. Otherwise, I feel as though I'm sinking into a quicksand of unread material. When I finally read the high school assignment, my eyes would run over the words, but...
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