Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Several years ago I was in a very difficult Pharmacology class. It was really important for me to get a great grade in this class. The first test was coming up. I had spent alot of time studying and I do mean alot of time. Hours and hours were spent with my book and notes. I ended up with a "C" on the test. That is when I decided to get smart about studying. I looked at how I studied and what I could do better next time so that I didn't spend all that time to end up with just a "C".

Here's what I figured out: Just because I had my book open and notes out didn't mean that I was doing anything to get that material into my head. Has this ever happened to you? You are sitting there with all your school notes and books out but in your head you are daydreaming, thinking about something else, listening to the TV or radio, anything but actually studying? I was wasting time, not really studying and not really doing what I wanted to do.

That's when I decided to GET REAL. I hate studying. I would rather do just about anything other than studying so I decided I would spend as little time studying as I needed to get a good grade. But when I did need to study, I would really put 100% effort in. That way, I would have more time to do the stuff I like to do.

I call it ACTIVE STUDYING when I put 100% effort into studying. I spend much less time studying but when I do study, nothing else interferes. So that means no cell phones, no texting, no TV, no friends, although sometimes I do listen to music. I'm in the zone. You will need to find what gets you in the zone and lets you stay in the zone. If you aren't in the zone, you are wasting time.

So what is 100% effort, being in the zone? This is when you are able to make connections between what you are trying to learn and what you already know. When you are able to make a connection you add to your knowledge base and you can go on to the next concept.

Here is an example: In Pharmacology we needed to know about different classes of drugs. One particular class of blood pressure drugs are Beta-Blockers. One way to recognize that a drug is a Beta-Blocker is that the drug's name will end with "OLOL". I was able to memorize this fact and remember it because I knew of someone who was taking Atenolol for high blood pressure. So when the test asked for the side effects of taking Metprolol I would know they are talking about a Beta-Blocker and to look to typical side effects of low blood pressure. I took something that I already knew (my friend takes Atenolol for high blood pressure) and matched it with what I needed to learn (Beta-Blockers are high blood pressure medications that end with "OLOL").

In the future I will go through other methods of making these connections between what you already know and what you need to know. By the way, I ended the semester with an "A" in Pharmacology.

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