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A. Before starting, think of how you prefer to learn and what can help you study effectively:
1) What kind of learner are you? Do you learn more at ease using your eyes, your ears, or your hands? Do you prefer using written texts, videos, tapes, or hands-on activities? Is it easier for you to memorize by visualizing (see in your mind's eye), listening, transforming information into a mathematical process, or acting out explanations?
2) What do you want to achieve with your studies? Are you interested, confident, willing to learn? If not, how can you improve on your attitude? Can you be interested or motivated by any aspects of the subject, by the results you can achieve studying, by the ability to progress despite the difficulties?
3) In what kind of environment do you feel more comfortable? What kind of place helps you concentrate? Do you like quiet or music in the background? Can you use the appropriate location without being interrupted? Do you have all the material you need close at hand before starting to study?
4) When do you feel more focused and active (mornings, evenings, etc.)? For how long can you usually pay attention to the subject? Does it help to work for a deadline? Can you plan short breaks to refreshen your mind, reward yourself, and keep studying for longer overall? Are you able to concentrate quickly and/or in unusual places and times? Can you use this ability to take advantage of odd free times and revise?
5) Do you like to study on your own or do you prefer to learn interacting with others? If you usually work alone, could it be helpful to join a study group? If you find it more congenial to work with others, could you create and manage a study group?
B. Points to keep in mind:
• Understanding how you learn best before embarking on your educational journey will pay off in terms of results and motivation. You should not delaying studying because you are busy organizing forever, but do take some time to recognize your learning style and design a good schedule. Be practical, but creative: there are many techniques and skills you can use to make the most of the time you spend learning.
• Be clear about what you want to achieve, and accept what your studies involve. Overconfidence or too much self-satisfaction is as negative as self-pity or self-consciousness. Sometimes you will struggle and make mistakes, but you can learn from your 'failures' if you consider them as necessary steps to improvement. If you organize your 'study space' and learning time well, it will be easier to have a positive attitude, get results, and keep motivated.
• Trying to create the best conditions in which to study, think especially of what helps you concentrate and memorize. Pay attention when you go over the material the first time, and aim at understanding the information. Then practice repeatedly and in different ways to commit to memory. Try to build an active knowledge of the subject. You do not want to remember for a short time; you want to understand and be able to recall and use your knowledge whenever you may need it.
• A realistic and detailed schedule should set a pace that includes breaks as well as revisions and regular tests. Use a gradual approach with small bits of information presented in an increasing level of difficulty. Check whether you know each bit by testing yourself and eventually alter the schedule to make sure your progress is correct. If you find mnemonics helpful or suitable to what you study, use them to memorize special bits of information. Most of all, allow as much time as possible to practice, and be persistent.
C. Consider your answers to the questions above, and design a method that is convenient and effective. It has to be practical and work well for you. Use the time and resources you have available as well as your personal aptitude to meet the targets you want to achieve with your studies.
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