High Yield vs. Low Yield Studying

Ok everbody, I’m back. It’s been a while since I posted. Probably b/c I’ve been lazy and I’ve been mourning for my Spurs. This offseason the team needs to make some changes. Keep Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili. Everyone one else is expendable. We should keep Bowen for his defense and Barry b/c he’s a reliable shooter. Definitely get rid of Horry, Finley, and Damon S. Bring in an athletic wing and a good center. This will keep us with the Hornets and Lakers.

So, to the actual point of this post. What is the definition of high and low-yield stuyding? I tried to find a good definittion online but could not. My basic definition of high yield is efficient studying where you study less but actually it leads to better performance. An example is attending review sessions where the professor tells you EXACTLY what is on the exam. In this case, bring a voice recorder and then study everything the professor says is going to be on the exam.

Unfortunately, not all profs are kind enough to give you the questions to the exams, so the next best thing is to study old exams. Old exams help you in numerous ways.

  • They give you the format of the test. You will know whether to study for MC questions or be prepared to give in depth answers to essay questions.
  • They tell you what area to concentrate on. For a pharmacokinetic test, you will know whether to worry about conceptual questions or working out actual problems.
  • Questions being reused. Teachers are lazy. They reuse old test questions. Normally you would get 10-20% of questions from an old exam. Just by looking at an old test, you’d be gaurenteed to know up to a fifth of the test.

What about low yield stuyding? One deadly example is studying when you are tired/sleepy. When you are looking at your notes or textbook but you’re not processing anything. STOP. You’re just wasting time. If it’s early in the day, take a 20 minute nap or go exercise. Then try studying again. If it’s late at night, take a shower. If a shower doesn’t work, just go to sleep. Another example is studying while watching TV/instant messaging/talking to somone. Doing two tasks at once is not efficient. Do one thing at a time. Check out the following link for proof that multitasking can be counterproductive.


What about group studying? It can be high or low-yield depending on the situation. I find small groups of 2-4 are good if you need help or to review. Groups of 5 or more generally are very bad. It’s too easy to socialize. Also, if you’re going to be in a group, make sure there’s at least one person who understands more than you in that course. That way, if you have a question someone else will probably know the answer. If you’re the one doing best in that course, you will be asked many questions.

In conclusion, study smart not hard. It’s better to study efficiently 2 hours a day than to study poor 4 hours a day and still end up with the same grade.

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One Response to “High Yield vs. Low Yield Studying”

  1. Pharmacy Mike Says:

    I guess I was always a high yield studier, even though I never knew it was called that. I studied far less than most of my classmates, but did far better than most of them. Some of that has to do with my ability to remember just about everything I hear and read. However, I think most of it has to do with the way I studied.

    I used to study by myself anywhere that I was alone and could talk out loud to myself. Usually, I’d study in my dorm room or my girlfriend’s dorm room. The first thing I would do is start at the first lecture covered on the exam and rewrite all the notes from the lectures covered on the exam. I wouldn’t just copy them word for word. I made it a point to understand them and rewrite them in a different, more organized way. While I’m rewriting all these notes (essentially reteaching myself the material), I’d be talking to myself out loud.

    I firmly believe that this is the absolute best way to study. With my method, you are reading your notes, writing them down again as if you’re teaching yourself, and talking outloud as if you’re trying to teach someone else. That means you’re seeing, writing, and hearing the material. All your senses are involved, and this stimulates the memory better than any one of those things by themselves.

    Using this method, I could learn all the material on an exam in just a few hours. I never had to pull an all-nighter. I never had to start studying a week in advance. I could just take out my notes on the day before my exam and be fully prepared by the time I took the exam the next day.

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