Learning Strategies: GED Test Prep (page 2)
Once you have created an effective learning environment and a detailed study plan, you can begin to review the material that will be tested on the GED. But how can you remember all that you need to know? This article reviews several key learning strategies, including effective note-taking, outlining, and memory techniques.
How successful you are at studying usually has less to do with how much you know and how much you study than with how you study. That's because some study techniques are much more effective than others. You can spend hours and hours doing practice tests, but if you don't carefully review your answers, much of your time will be wasted. You need to learn from your mistakes and study what you don't know. The best method is to use several of the following proven study techniques. They can help you make the most of your learning style and store information in your long-term memory.
Asking questions is a powerful study strategy because it forces you to get actively involved in the material you want to learn. That, in turn, will help you better understand and remember the material. And there's another important benefit—asking and answering your own questions will help you be comfortable with the format of the exam.
For example, when you are reading a short story, you can ask yourself questions like those you might see on the GED, such as:
- What is the theme of the story?
- What is the narrator's attitude toward her mother?
- Why is the setting important?
- Which adjective best describes the narrator?
- What is the narrator's main motivation for her actions?
- What is the significance of the empty basket?
- What is the narrator's relationship to the woman in the window?
Similarly, if you are analyzing a diagram of the human ear, you can ask:
- What is immediately below the auditory tube?
- What is the scientific name of the ear drum?
- Where is the incus located?
- What parts of the ear must a sound wave travel through to get to the pharynx?
- How many bones are in the middle ear cavity?
Of course, you may not be able to answer all of your questions right away. You may need to do some extra work to find the answer.
Highlighting and Underlining
Here's a good habit to get into: Whenever you read, have a pen, pencil, or highlighter in your hand. That way, as you read, you can mark the words and ideas that are most important to learn or remember. Highlighting and underlining help make key ideas stand out. Important information is then easy to find when you need to take notes or review.
The key to effective highlighting or underlining is to be selective. Don't highlight or underline everything. If you highlight every other sentence, nothing will stand out for you on the page. Highlight only the key words and ideas.
But how do you know what you should highlight or underline? As you study for the GED, you should highlight or underline:
- words that are defined in the text
- main ideas
- key details that support or explain main ideas
- words, grammar rules, and other items that you need to remember
- ideas or concepts that are new to you
- unfamiliar vocabulary words and idiomatic expressions (so that you can look them up and learn their meaning)
Taking notes is a terrific study strategy. It helps you understand, organize, and remember information. The secret to taking good notes is knowing what you should write down. As with highlighting, the key is to be selective. Take notes about the same things you would underline, especially main ideas, rules, and other items you need to learn. Whenever possible, include examples so that you can see the concept clearly. For example, below are some notes on the structure of an animal cell:
Animal Cell Structure
Three parts: plasma membrane, cytoplasm, nucleus.
Plasma membrane: Isolates cell from the environment, regulates movement of materials in and out of cell, communicates with other cells.
Cytoplasm: Includes water, salts, and enzymes that catalyze reactions. Contains organelles such as mitochondrion, which capture energy from food molecules.
Nucleus: Includes nuclear envelope (isolates nucleus), nuclear pores (regulate the passage of materials, including water, ions, proteins, and RNA; controls flow of information to and from DNA), chromatin (DNA and associated proteins) and, at innermost core, nucleolus (site of ribosome assembly).
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