Study More Effectively with Art

Study More Effectively with Art

by Mackenzie Wall
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It is a daunting task to study for a multi-chapter unit test. Besides the final exam, those are the tests that every high school student dreads – no matter how good their grades are. Many students have their own tried-and-true methods of study, while many others are still searching for the right method for them. Have you ever thought about using art when you study to help you remember things?

When I was in grade eleven, one of my teachers had us make study guides. They were to include everything we needed to remember for each unit test. We were allowed to put whatever we wanted on it, as long as it fit on one side of a piece of paper. The first one I ever made was a work of art: it was probably the most colourful non-art assignment I’ve ever turned in.

I came to realize that with that method of study, I was remembering more than ever. Suddenly, memorizing pages of vocabulary, trying to remember the parts of a diagram, and writing out textbook definitions word for word seemed boring. Limited to the space of one page, I quickly had to learn to condense information.

I eventually came up with a system in three parts: replacing words and phrases with symbols, using illustrations to replace paragraphs, and colour coding the parts that I did wind up writing.

Use a set of symbols that are meaningful to you. Not only will it be less boring when you are reviewing your notes, but the extra brain power you use to remember what the symbols mean will help you to recall that information in the future. The more complicated, but definitely more fun, part is the illustrating.

Do not let a lack of faith in your artistic abilities stop you. No matter how well you can draw, even if it is just stick figures, you can use illustrations effectively. After all, they are there for your benefit. As long as you understand the concept, you have done what you have set out to do. If a few arrows and a vaguely-drawn map of North America help you to remember where vital battles took place? Excellent. A few scribbled lines and some swirls to show how ocean currents work? Wonderful! When you draw it out yourself, you are far more likely to retain the information you have put down than if you had stared at it on the page of a textbook.

Next comes highlighting. Since you will need some words in your notes, why not come up with a colour-coding system? In my study guide, I would put a small legend on the side containing not only the above-mentioned symbols, but also what each colour meant.

Try using a different colour for headings and subheadings, vocabulary words and definitions, and concepts you have difficulty remembering. Everything will be a lot easier to find when you know what colour to look for.

Try it out sometime. Use it for the next big test you have. You might discover some hidden talents, and maybe even find studying enjoyable. You may realize that merely creating the study sheet is enough and never refer to it again. Maybe that unit test won’t be so daunting after all.

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