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Section 5

Do the self-tests in between lessons.

Often a poor match between learner and instructional style will show up in the self-tests. For example, if you’re really a visual learner and your curriculum is too auditory, you won’t retain much, and this will show up as a poor score on the self-tests. If you’re just not retaining the material the way you think you should, figure out if there’s another way in which you could learn more efficiently.

Choose the best time and place for you to study.

For some reason, it’s commonly believed that people are at their mental peak first thing in the morning, and their brains are less receptive at night. This is undoubtedly true – for morning people. Some of us, on the other hand, are night people; we drag ourselves through the first hours of the day, gradually building up energy that propels us into the wee hours of the night. Other people may fall somewhere between the two extremes. Some people study right after they get home from work; others need a break before they crack the books.

The point is – you know when your mind is most alert and receptive. It doesn’t matter what works for other people; study when it’s best for you, and give up trying to study at times when you’re just not wired to do it.

In the same vein, some people enjoy studying in groups, and others prefer studying alone.

Some people prefer studying in a place that’s bustling with activity, like a café or a train station; others can’t study anywhere except their rooms. Here peer pressure (or the memory of your mother’s nagging voice) sometimes gets in the way, directing you one way or the other. (“You can’t study will all those people chattering! Go somewhere quiet!”) But how your mother thinks, or thought, you should study is irrelevant; you need to firmly assert your knowledge of your own internal makeup, and study in whatever location really works for you.

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