4 Tips to Retain What You Read: An Essential Guide for JCU Undergrads

study abroad in Italy

Deciding to study in Italy marks an important new chapter in your life. You’ll remember Rome as the place where you made friends from all over the world, honed your academic talents, and developed a diverse skillset that opened many doors after graduation.

But university can be a huge leap from high school. You’ll have more independence, and more responsibility for your own learning. Plus, between course work, campus events, and field trips, students in Rome have so much to take in! You might find that how you studied in high school just doesn’t cut it in this new, dynamic environment.

It’s normal to want an academic upgrade during college—which is why we’ve put together these four tips to help you study and retain information more effectively.

Use Active Listening to Take Better Notes

Many students mistake note-taking as writing down everything the professor says, word-for-word, as fast as possible. But education experts suggest that the best approach is to use active listening. This means engaging with the experience by asking questions, contributing to discussions, and getting to the heart of key ideas.

This process will help you identify and internalize concepts. What you write down will make perfect sense later, because you’ve already thought things through and articulated key points in your OWN words.

To be as active as possible in your classes, review your last set of notes before your upcoming lecture—you’ll contribute more to the conversation, make important connections, and remember new content more thoroughly.

Reviewing notes prior to your lecture will help you actively engage with the material

Reviewing notes prior to your lecture will help you actively engage with the material

Time Study Sessions While You Study Abroad in Rome

If you’re reading sentences over and over again during a study session, take a break! Our ability to retain information diminishes around the 30- to 40-minute mark. That’s why most professors warn students against last-minute cramming, which generally results in only partial comprehension and retention.

When you study abroad in Rome, there are many ways to take a rejuvenating study break. Make sure you do, so that you have the best chance of remembering the material you’re reading.

Practice Teaching Yourself (and Others!)

Instead of focusing on memorization, try studying with the intent of teaching others. This works best if you have an audience, like a friend or classmate also attending JCU. If you’re on your own, try explaining key ideas out loud, using your own words.

If you can break down important concepts, define key terms, and give illustrative examples, you’re on the right track! This is a sure-fire way to boost retention by entrenching the material in your long-term memory.

Ask Questions and Research the Answers

While it’s tempting to use a highlighter, this only singles out individual facts and words, and can hamper a student’s ability to make thematic connections between ideas. Instead, make a list of terms to define and questions to answer. Researching and developing answers in your own words helps boost understanding and retention.

Highlighting singles out individual words and facts

Highlighting singles out individual words and facts

These tips are all about customizing your strategy. We all learn and remember differently. By formulating concepts in your own words and own time, you’ll find the best route to retaining, and getting the most out of, new learning!

Which of these tips would you try when you study abroad in Italy?

Contact John Cabot University for more information!

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