Most GED students are busy adults. Whether they're enrolled in a local GED prep class, or managing a self-guided study program, limited time means study time should 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 masters degree.
Once students understand how to activate the learning process and understand the learning process itself, it's easier to learn. Learning is about retaining knowledge and owning it -- not about memorization. And this is what the GED really measures -- using knowledge 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 work 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 for the test.
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 workplace 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 life. Once information is interesting or important, it quickly becomes real knowledge, knowledge that's used.
Learning is a Style
Learning is a style, and there are plenty of learning styles. The learning process is more easily activated when information is presented in a way that parallels an individual's learning style.
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 easily 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? By reading?
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.