Five Types of Studying


You may wonder how there can possibly be 5 types of studying.  You probably think one is enough, right?! The truth is that if you break studying down into components, there really are 5 that are essential if you want to fully learn the material.  Studying isn’t just something you do the day before a test; it is the whole process of learning, from gathering information to cementing it in your long term memory.  So, here are the 5 types of studying with descriptions of each.

1.  Study to Gather Information

  • The purpose is to formulate complete and accurate notes from the textbooks and lectures.
  • To do this:
    • Identify the information to be learned in class and textbooks using the clues to main ideas and details that are given in lectures and textbooks.
    • Organize, condense, and record information in a format that promotes learning. Some options include note cards, Cornell notes, outlines, and mind maps.
    • Verify the completeness and accuracy of your notes.  Simply thinking, assuming, feeling, or believing notes are complete and accurate doesn’t mean they are.

2.  Study to Learn Information

  • The purpose is to move information from short-term memory into long-term memory. This requires repeated recitation of material to be learned.
  • To do this:      
    • Make time in your schedule to do repeated recitations of your notes.
    • Look at a main idea with the details hidden from view.
    • Recite aloud, as if teaching someone else, all the details you can remember.
    • Look at the details to check for accuracy and completeness.
    • If there were parts you couldn’t remember, repeat the process until you have mastery.

3.  Study to Check for Learning

  • The purpose is to identify what has and has not yet been learned BEFORE a test is taken. This requires self-testing which should be done 2 to 3 times a week.
  • To do this:
    • Use your notes and look only at the main points (cover the details).
    • Recite ALOUD the details as if you are teaching someone else.
    • Look at the details to check for accuracy and completeness.
    • If you can recite the details correctly on the 1st try, you know that the material has been learned.
    • If you can’t recite the details correctly on the 1st try, the material has NOT been learned. You need to study to learn again.

4.  Study to Refresh

  • The purpose is to prevent forgetting. This requires regular recitation of material already learned.
  • To do this:
    • Make regular times in your schedule to review material already learned. This combats the “Fading Effect” (forgetting).
    • Regularly review material already learned at least 2 or 3 times each week.

5.  Study to Improve Learning Strategies

  • The purpose is to identify learning strategies that worked so they can be repeated and identify learning strategies that didn’t work so they can be modified.  This is the most neglected and overlooked type of studying.
  • To do this:
  • Use each quiz and test as feedback on your learning strategies. Grades are feedback on how effective your learning strategies work.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your learning strategies by identifying
    • Answers that were correct and determine which learning strategies you used to learn this information
    • Answers that were incorrect and determine what you did or didn’t do to miss them
  • Modify learning strategies that resulted in lost points.
  • Use resources that improve learning strategies.

The VLC has multiple resources and opportunities available to provide assistance to you.  Virtual Learing Center

Schedule a time today for your personal session.  

In person: The VLC is located inside the Center for Learning & Teaching

                SEM 2G3 (Across from the Math Lab)


Phone:  (405) 682-7838