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Strategies For Effective Study


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Short-term Topics


For quick-hitter needs such as learning 20 French vocabulary words for a test tomorrow morning try the following approach:


1. Create a text-only file using Fill-In-The-Blank Q&A pairs.  Make sure you provide only ONE FIB answer for each Q&A pair.  This will let you use the A First, Followed By Q option to study the Q&A pairs in both directions.


Tip: If you're using Educator or Scholar, just use Standard Pairs entered in the QuickDeck tab of the editor (much faster to enter). Then use the Options|Q&A Modes|Automatic Fill-in-the-blank from Standard Pairs option to switch to FIB-type presentation when studying.


2. In Options|Pair Order & Size select Repetition = One Pass and Order = Random.


3. Make several passes through the file, both with and without A First, Followed By Q set.  It's best to use the Ask All Questions Equally Often Mode and the Random setting at this stage so as not to become dependent on the order of the Q&A pairs for clues. After each pass is complete, click 'Yes' in Continuation dialog and 'Yes' again in the 'Only Include Missed Pairs? dialog. As you continue to repeat the file, the 'learned' Q&A pairs will drop off while the tough nuts will continue to appear.  Once you've gotten all the remaining Q&A pairs correct the file will automatically reset to asking all of the Q&A pairs again, letting you review the full set again, working through it until all are answered correctly again.


4. Repeat step 3 until you feel confident you've mastered the file. You can add variety to the 'cram session' by using the features in the Options|Q&A Modes|Settings Common To All Modes grouping.


5. Take periodic breaks from concentrating on WinFlash - let your mind relax and come back to it again in 10-15 minutes.


6. All done?  Great!  Go to bed early and you'll be ready to ace that exam in the morning!!


What are the general guidelines in the approach above?  Get an overall grip on the material first.  Repeat the material in both directions, if possible.  Prefer the FIB mode, since writing (typing)  the answer helps you learn the material more quickly than just reading it.  Take periodic breaks to avoid burning out.


Medium-term Topics


For bigger learning projects with a time horizon of a week to a month you can afford to invest a bit more time in constructing the file itself.  You might wish to include graphics and/or audio/video material as well as utilize the Hints & Comments capability of WinFlash.  You will probably also be adding Q&A pairs to the file as you go and studying the material in multiple sessions.


1. Consider organizing the material by using the Category information field for each Q&A pair.  If you're studying several chapters over the time period, you could use the chapter numbers as categories or there may be some other logical way of breaking up the information.  In any case, if you use Categories, it will give you a way of studying subsets of the information.


2. You may wish to use the Frequency Based On Priority List mode, especially if your material contains "must know" nuggets that are more important than the average of the material being studied.  Put these important Q&A pairs on the Priority List and set the Frequency so that you are asked these Q&A pairs at a rate you deem appropriate for emphasis.


3. Each time you add new material, you can focus on that new material for a while by either selecting it based on Category or based on Numerical Range in Options|Pair Order/Size.


4. Keep spending time reviewing the entire file, while spending focused time as described in #3 on a regular basis.


5. Alternatively, you may wish to employ the Frequency Based On History mode. It will keep track of your performance on all of the Q&A pairs and "promote" them to Short Term Learned and then Long Term Learned categories.


You can set the Frequencies such that you review the Q&A pairs you don't know on a more frequent basis, while still being exposed to Short Term and Long Term Learned pairs as well.


Try mixing in the various settings in Options|Pair Order/Size as well as the A First, Followed By Q, Display Answer After ___ Seconds, Auto Pilot and Q Only settings to keep some variety in your sessions. Educator users may wish to try the Run Minimized which will popup pairs every so many minutes while you're using your computer to work on other material.


Long-term Topics


For  learning projects with a time horizon of a month to a quarter or more, you'll really need to break your material up into manageable sections.  You can do this using multiple files or, if 200 categories is sufficient, within a single file.  I've found it helpful to actually write out a schedule of which parts of the material I plan to study when, to assure a reasonably even application of study time across the material.


For truly long-term learning, it's hard to beat the Leitner Box System mode. This is a great tool for such projects as learning and retaining the vocabulary for a language. The system takes advantage of the brain's improvement in the length of time a fact is retained each time that fact is reinforced. Because of this, it has the advantage of being able to maintain proficiency in a large number of facts over long periods without a huge time investment in continuous review.


Again, as with the medium term projects, I suggest focusing on newly-added material for a few sessions each time new material is added and then resuming a round-robin review of various sections or categories until you again add new material.


I hope you've found these suggestions for using WinFlash helpful.  If you've developed your own tricks for studying with WinFlash, please send them to me via e-mail and I'll add them to the Users Tips section below for the next release!


Users' Tips


This user has a unique way of utilizing the Frequency Based On History mode to track short-term progress:


One of my favourite methods of learning is to go through a Range of Q/As. First I reset all questions to Unlearned. Thus when I answer a question correctly twice (setable), the question is upgraded to Short Term Learned. Once all questions are upgraded, I select another Range.


Another user combines Frequency Based On History mode and Frequency Based On Priority List mode in the following fashion:


I use "Priority" as a means of isolating Q/A pairs which are more difficult to remember while I am working in Frequency Based On History mode. Then I switch to "Frequency based on Priority/ Ask a priority question=100%" to concentrate only on the Priority questions...


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