First step of studying: Understand the lesson

We shouldn’t start memorizing without having previously understood the lesson.

We don’t have things in order, we don’t have the material ready, we don’t verify that our notes are complete; we don’t know what subjects the teacher thinks are more important, we don’t have the supplies we need at hand.

We study in the wrong place, with noise, somewhere where it’s impossible to focus.

For example, we study in the living room, trying to watch a football game at the same time.

It’s better to stop and watch the game and then make up for it another time, doing the work we didn’t do.

Lack of motivation also produces a waste of time.

Studying demands effort, and we don’t always want to do it. But, since we need to do it if we want to pass our tests, then it’s worth working hard for it.

It helps to be convinced about the importance of studying, and to know the future benefit it will bring us.

Studying with apathy demands double the time than when you’re motivated.


  • Quick reading of the subject to see what it is about.
  • Slow reading, outlining key ideas (un-linking the essential parts from the extra parts).
  • Diagram or summary of the most important ideas, relating them to each other, forming conceptual networks and determining their causes, consequences and conclusions.
  • Content learning (diagrams or summary), whether it is by reading them several times, saying them aloud as if they were being explained to someone else, reviewing them in a different order or using extravagant images.

Mnemonic rules.


These resources can be really useful to help you remember, and they can be interesting when:


– You can’t establish logical relationships, for example: lists of words, numbers, dates, etc.


– In high-anxiety situations, if you get too nervous and feel blocked.


– If you’re short of time (but this last thing shouldn’t happen if you do a good planning)


► Examples.


  1. Acrostics: they consist on constructing words from initial letters or syllables in a list of words you want to learn. You can also use the first syllable in every word of the list.


Ex.: learn this list of names: Bartolomé Díaz, Vasco de Gama, Colón, Ponce de León, Magallanes, Elcano.

You could remember it with the following acrostic: BARVASCOPONMAEL.


  1. Comic strips: it consists on creating a comic strip with the information to memorize.


  1. 3. Rhyme, verses: it consists on looking for a rhyme for the information you have to remember, because this will make it easier.




Reading is really important when studying. Think, for example, about how many hours you spend in front of a book.

You should think about reading not only as a basic study tool, but also as a source of fun and entertainment, something that can help you have a good time.

For example, reading lets you: choose and select from among many subjects like adventure, mystery, crime, etc. It can help you imagine and create many situations described in books, even making you a character in the story.


► Reading constraints.


– Vision: you need to first ask yourself if you need glasses, and if you wear them, you need to determine if you’re using the right graduation.

Specialists recommend having a yearly checkup, but there are also other signs that make sight problems obvious. For example, check to see if you see blurry letters, if you blink too much, if your eyelids get swollen, if you get frequent headaches or if you have trouble concentrating.


– Eye fatigue: it happens when you’ve been reading for too long, and so your performance obviously worsens. To fight it, you can do one of these things:

– Look through a window and into the distance.

– Blink frequently for a while.

– Wet your eyes with fresh water or a chamomile infusion.


– Lighting:

– Have enough intensity

– Natural light is better

– If it’s artificial, it has to be indirect and blue

– It should come from the opposite side of the hand you use to write

– Avoid reflections

– Avoid shadows


– Text position: The book must be inclined and not laid flat on a desk. Use a lectern for this. Keep in mind that the text shouldn’t move, so you shouldn’t be reading in a car, on a bus or a train, etc.


– Distance of the text: It shouldn’t be too far away or too close. It should be between 25 and 35 cm. It has to be at just the right distance for you to feel comfortable reading.


– Body position: It’s important for concentration and to avoid fatigue, without forgetting the problems that can be caused to the spine. It should be a comfortable position, but not so comfortable that makes you sleepy. The spine should be straight and so too should the head.


– Type of letters and paper: The most appropriate letter size is medium. The type should be clear. The paper shouldn’t be shiny. Black type on white paper is the one that best catches the eye.