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GED Study Tip: Activate the Learning Process

Most GED students are busy adults. Whether they're enrolled in a local GED prep class, or managing a self-guided study program, they need their study time to be as effective as possible.

What makes a study program effective? Successful study is about learning, and the learning process is critical for any student –- whether it's mastering skills for the GED or the skills for a master's degree. And since learning is really a lifelong process, a lesson on how people learn is a good one to understand.

Once students understand their individual learning styles and the learning process itself, it's easier to learn since learning is about retaining knowledge and owning it -– not about memorization. And this is what the GED really measures – using the information that you own.

Learning is an Active Process

For most people, learning doesn't magically occur by reading or reviewing, or by listening to a lecture. Learning is an active process, and to learn, students need to be involved or engaged with the information. Consider this student's story, from Curtis, a PassGED graduate:

"I failed the GED math test two times. I had passed all the other tests, but it seemed like every time I saw those numbers, it was like a foreign language. It didn't matter how much I studied. I still didn't have a clue. I thought I'd never learn how to do the math.

"Then I took a math course. I learned that lots of the math on the test, well, I already knew it. Like I could do math in my head and I was good at figuring out money, quick like, in my mind. Once I figured out how to look at the numbers on the test the same way I saw them in my mind, it was easy to learn what I needed to know to pass the math test."

For Curtis, once learning became an active process, his learning was activated. He discovered a way to be involved and engaged with mathematical information, so he was able to retain the information and knowledge he needed.

Real Learning Requires Relevant Information

Curtis's story demonstrates another learning principle. Real learning requires relevant information. Just consider how many people claim to be poor math learners, yet these same people are wizards with personal finances, estimating, or they can solve problems using analytical ability. When information is relevant, it's meaningful and much easier to master since it makes a difference to life.

So a good GED study plan requires relevant information. Even when the material doesn't seem very relevant, students can make it meaningful by thinking of ways the information or knowledge might apply to their own lives. Then, information is interesting or important and it quickly becomes real knowledge.

Learning is a Self-Controlled Process

People learn faster and better when they control the speed of learning. In most classrooms, it’s the teacher who controls the material. So it's important for GED students to determine their own learning speed, and to devise methods or a study plan that accommodates that speed. In classroom situations it's more difficult since instructors follow lesson plans. So talking to the instructor may help. Some students may learn better by moving more quickly through material, while others need extra time. Regardless, once a student understands that they need to control their own learning -– and the speed in which it takes place -- learning is easier. They can then identify the most comfortable speed, and consequently, learn faster and learn more.

Learning Requires Rapid Feedback

Feedback is a critical part of the learning process, one that's often overlooked. The more immediate and meaningful the feedback is, the quicker people learn. Consider how many classroom situations work: Information is presented over days or weeks -- or sometimes over months. Then students are tested. Until they see test results, students may not know whether their learning is effective.

The best learning situation gives the learner immediate feedback on their progress. A good GED study program should include continuous opportunities for students to connect their learning efforts with their outcomes. This way, students can quickly identify whether they’ve learned material, need to learn it better and reinforce the learning process by using information quickly and frequently.

Learning is a Style

Learning is a style, and there are plenty of learning styles. Some people learn best by hearing. Some by seeing, or by hands-on application. And some people learn through combined styles. Some students can immediately see the logic of how material fits together -- or the whole picture, while others more clearly see the details of the different pieces.

Just consider how some math students are very good with equations, but have a tough time with word problems. Then other students master word problems quickly but find equations difficult and mind-boggling. Both types of students use different learning styles to approach math.

So it's important for students to identify their own learning style. Do you enjoy lectures? And listening to information? Or do words always seem to create images and pictures in your mind? Or, do you know that you learn best with your hands? Or through movement?

Once you understand your learning style, you can use it to your advantage. When studying, convert the material to the learning style that makes you comfortable -– especially if the material seems confusing, meaningless, tedious, boring or difficult. Translate test problems, knowledge and concepts into pictures, story form or even create dances, games or models. Whenever possible, use learning materials designed for your learning style, or that that you can easily adapt to your own style.

Real Learning = Real Application

Once you learn material, use it. Use it every chance you get. Using new knowledge ensures ownership. Soon, you won't consider your knowledge as something to whip out at test time; you’ll know it's a whip smart investment.

More Resources:

For additional GED study tips, test information and resources for adult GED students and instructors, visit http://www.passGED.com/. The website also provides a short movie, with answers to the most common questions about the GED. The address is http://passged.com/onlinecourses/index_preview113802.htm.

Submitted by:

Leonard Williams

Leonard Williams, an e-learning instructor with http://www.passGED.com, is also a curriculum specialist who focuses on research and development, implementation and assessment of best-practice learning solutions for adult learners and people with educational challenges. Leonard's email is LeonardWilliams@passGED.com. He invites feedback and questions from GED students and instructors.


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