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Learn smarter, not harder - An overview of learning and study strategies

Study smarter
Bad marks despite constant studying? Can't study any more because you already feel like you're doing your best? Adapting and improving your study strategy might help! Study is not only discipline and perseverance, it’s also technique, organisation and planning.

Support strategies

Supportive strategies aim to support learning. In other words, they help to create optimal conditions for effective learning. There is a distinction between internal and external support strategies, i.e. internal and external resources that can positively influence your study.

Internal support strategies are factors that influence your internal state and as a result, your study behaviour. These include:
  • Sleep
  • Mood and attitudes
  • Breaks
External support strategies are external influences that affect your study processes. These include:
  • A calm and undisturbed study environment
  • Routines
  • A revision plan
  • A study group
If you want to know more about support strategies, check out our other blogs.

Organisational strategies

Organisational strategies are a part of cognitive learning strategies. Organisational strategies help you allocate your time and learn more efficiently. Effective forward planning is essential, which is why a distinction should be made between planning time for each subject in general, and planning of the learning content itself.

Time and subject planning: Starting to study at the last minute only creates unnecessary stress. Therefore, plan your time effectively and divide the time you have available between the different subjects you need to cover. You can achieve this with a revision plan.

Structure of the material to be learned: To make the material you need to cover more digestible, you should break the content down to the most essential points. Then, you should create links and relationships between the information to create a network structure so that you have a better overview of the content.

Here are some examples of common ways of organising content you need to study:
  • Mind maps
  • Drawings and sketches
  • Notes
  • Charts and diagrams
  • Study cards
Want to know more about the different ways of organising materials? Read the following blog post: Organisational strategies - How to manage your workload.

Elaboration Strategies

In addition to organisational strategies, elaboration strategies are part of cognitive learning strategies designed to help you learn, process and memorise the content you have studied. These aim to go deeper into the subject so you are able to better understand and apply the content.

Examples of these elaboration techniques include:
  • Relating new knowledge to existing knowledge
  • Searching for own examples
  • Self-explanation
  • Presenting content with images
  • Learning content through metaphors
  • Understanding the content studied
  • Working with post-its
  • Making mistakes and correcting them on their own
  • Testing knowledge
What exactly are these techniques? You'll find the answer in this blog post: Elaboration strategies - How to learn in an effective way.

Control strategies

Metacognitive learning strategies, also called control strategies, allow you to monitor and observe your study, evaluate and reflect on your successes and eventually adapt and modify your planning and mode of action. With these strategies, t’s important to be honest with yourself. Only by realistically assessing your progress can you learn from your mistakes and improve.

The following techniques could help you:
  • Self-testing
  • Past papers
  • Discussion with another person
  • Feedback
If you also want to know more about this learning strategy, try reading this blog post: Control strategies - How to make learning visible.
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