One of the most effective study strategies you can use is essay writing. An essay is a trial, or an effort to explore something - perhaps an idea, or a feeling, or a concept, or knowledge. In this article we will look at how you can use it as a learning tool to reinforce your grasp of the subject.
As you sit down to prepare for an exam, or simply to investigate your grasp of a subject you need to think of a topic or thesis to explore which is relevant and suited to the subject. You might choose a topic such as "How to complete a geometry proof", "Why electricity works", "Whether the New Deal actually helped American prosperity", depending on the subject at hand. As you use this method you will become adept at choosing topics that are appropriate to the particular field you are working on.
Once you have established your topic you need to brainstorm for all the relevant information in your head. It is good to do this first without referring to your books or notes so that you can discover what you really do know without being prompted. At first this can take quite a long time, but like all skills it becomes faster with practice and will stand you in good stead if you need to sit a formal exam in the subject - and as a secondary advantage you will also hone your writing skills.
Your next step is to organise the ideas you have generated into major points and their supporting evidence. This step of sifting through your knowledge and identifying key points and supporting points will often make you aware of relationships which you might have overlooked earlier, you may also find that you don't have much information to work with which immediately identifies an area you need to study further. If necessary, at this point you will return to your books and notes to add any facts, illustrations, or connections which are needed to round out your outline and consider alternate arguments or angles.
You are now ready to use your outline to describe the procedure or situation, defend a position, or explain an outcome as clearly and vividly as possible. If you do this work well, your essay will not only be informative, but interesting to read. When you have completed your essay, read it aloud to check for errors and clumsy phrasing as well as sloppy argument - even though it is only for your own use you should do it as well as possible so that it becomes both a demonstration of your knowledge and your writing skill.
You can apply this method to any field of study from mathematics and science, to music, art, literature and history. Writing about any subject will help you to understand it better and expose gaps in your knowledge as well as giving you a useful record for further review and great writing practice.