Study Advice

Principles of Effective Studying I Principle 2: Monitor your Understanding

By Ollie Lovell - 3 minute read

Fully understanding the content:

Many people fall into the trap of falsely believing that they understand a concept when they actually don't. Lovell explains that you only really understand a concept if you can explain it to someone else and if you can answer similar questions that are related to the content. To ensure that you fully understand what you are learning, you should get into the habit of asking yourself a few questions and answering them properly. 

How would I explain this?

After studying, every person should ask themselves 'how would I explain this'. They should make sure they can explain the concept to another person or simply explaining it out loud to yourself. Lovell recommends firstly, explaining it out loud to yourself, then writing the explanation down and after explaining it to a parent or a friend. Make sure you are explaining the concept in your own words as it is a sign that you fully comprehend the content. 

If you can't explain something in your own words, you don't understand it

What would happen if?

To test if you fully understand a certain concept, you should ask yourself some simple 'what if' questions. For example if you learned a concept in Further Maths relating to a positive gradient, you should ask yourself, 'what would happen if the gradient was negative'. Or if you have learned in Psychology about glutamate agonists being necessary for people with low levels of glutamate, ask yourself 'what would happen if someone has high levels of glutamate'.  

This will ensure that you are fully prepared for any type of question that may come up in a test or exam. Teachers and examiners like to throw people off by asking a question that is slightly different to something that students have already seen before. However if you get in the habit of asking yourself these questions, you will be familiar with these exam-style questions. 

How is this similar or different from other ideas? 

It is vital when learning to connect your old materials to the new information your learning. This will strengthen your understanding of the topic and thus allow for better marks. Without linking new learning to pervious topics, you will never fully comprehend the new piece of information. For example, without learning about the number 1, you will not understand the significance of the number 2. Through asking yourself a simple question like 'how is this similar or different from other ideas,' you are getting yourself in the habit to link information and strengthen your knowledge. 

Also the most difficult exam questions relate to linking information from various different topics. Therefore if you start getting used to asking yourself this question now, then you will save yourself the stress when it comes time for a exam. 

We hope you are able to put these tips into practice. If you have any questions or concerns, contact us anytime :)

The Studyclix Team