By, Roxy Simons
When studying for an upcoming test, students will often resort to memorizing the facts without completely understanding the concepts. Sure, this method allows you to easily and efficiently find the correct answers on test day, but this form of preparation does not allow long term memory retention, especially if you crammed the night before. Granted, there are definitely certain DSM criteria that need to be memorized, but understanding the theory or diagnoses will serve you better in the long run. Instead of spending valuable time trying to memorize the DSM in full, I would suggest only committing the MESCAT method, personality disorders, and major depressive disorders to memory, as this is general information that will appear on many of your exams. However, instead of mechanically memorizing your notes, regurgitating the information on test day, and immediately forgetting everything, strive to fully understanding the theories you’re studying and recognize ideas that go together.
If you are having trouble grasping the subject material while studying alone, consider joining a study group. There are many benefits to studying alone, such as encountering fewer distractions, staying independently focused, and having complete control of the session; however, there are also many advantages to joining or forming a study group. When studying with a group of your peers, you have fellow classmates at hand to help you understand confusing concepts, remind you of important instructions or notes from the professor, and quiz you on the subject material. You will also benefit from explaining a topic to someone else; even if you already understand the material, discussing it with your peers will help you better comprehend and remember the concepts.
There are many ways to go about forming a study group: you can start a conversation with the student in the next seat and ask them if they would like to study with you, ask your professor to advise you which students to invite to a study session, or send an email to the entire class asking if anyone would like to form a group. Choose the members of your study group wisely. Find the students that stay engaged in class, ask questions, and submit work on time. Be sure to keep your group small (around three to six students), so that there are fewer schedules to accommodate. Once you’ve formed a group, exchange contact information with the other students. If you aren’t meeting at a student’s house or a coffee shop, be sure to reserve a study room at the library. Set a date, start time, and end time; this will help the group stay focused. Never meet for longer than three hours at a time. Decide beforehand what exactly you will be studying and prepare questions that you would like the group to discuss. Allow each student time to ask their questions as well. If possible, try to meet on the same day and at the same time each week, so that the sessions become routine.