The worst feeling to have in college is going into an exam or finals knowing you are going to fail. It is a waste of time and money every time it happens.
This post will give you the best tips we found to help you study effectively while still making the most your time.
Take good notes
Yes the rumors you heard are true. Taking good notes can lead to a better grade. But what you don’t hear is that you need to do something with those notes.
When you take notes keep in mind that you are creating a tool that will come in handy later rather than something that you throw in your backpack never to see the light of day again.
Focus of jotting down the things that seem most important first. Don’t just start writing down everything because you see everyone else doing it.
At the end of every day, reread your notes for the day. This will help your retention of the material and long term comprehension. Research done by the Center for Research on learning and Teaching finds that “taking notes in class and reviewing those notes (either in class or afterward) have a positive impact on student learning”.
Tip: When you take notes keep in mind that you are writing for nobody but yourself. Write in a language and tone that you understand. Writing word for word what your professor has on the board is counter productive and will probably not clear anything up for you when you review your notes. If you’re not sure about something you are about to write, raise your hand and asks a question, you will be glad you did when you review your notes.
Unless you are able to study in a cluttered environment, you might want to consider removing some of the “noise” around your study area.
Many studies have been done by scientists on the effects that your immediate environment has on your productivity and they have all come to the same conclusion: More clutter means less concentration.
If you chose to study in your dorm room, try to clean it up a bit before you start going through your notebooks.
Also if you chose to study elsewhere, that’s fine. Just make sure that it is somewhere with very little background clutter and that you know you can concentrate on what you need to study.
Tip: Don’t just stop there. Be organized in every aspect of your life. Ever heard the saying “stay ready so you never have to get ready”? It applies here too. Stay organized so you never have to worry about getting organized when it is time to study. Clean up your backpack, your dorm room, your closet, you reading table, the floors etc.
Disconnect for a while
Yes. i now how it is to separate from our little devices. Even when you set your phone down you can easily find yourself picking it back up 2 minutes later.
No? Just me? Okay.
Well, for those that are like me, it can be very hard to separate from your phone – especially when you are doing something you would rather not be doing, like studying.
But it is very important to put your phones down so can keep track of and better understand what it is you are studying.
If you constantly pick up your phone during study sessions, odds are you will end that session knowing just about as much as you did when you started.
Tip: Put your phone on silent and turn it face down when you study. It is okay to check it only once in a while or during your study breaks but don’t over do it.
When you study, time management is very important.
You want to make sure that you are not making the mistake of not studying a topic enough before you move to the next one and that you aren’t over studying a topic so much that you don’t have enough time to address other topics.
When you breeze through a topic you probably won’t learn anything new and when you spend more time than is needed on one topic, you risk over learning.
If you have ever felt “burned-out” while studying then you have felt what i mean by over learning. It happens when you have been repeatedly studying the same thing to try to make it stick.
Try to vary what you study. You don’t have to move completely move to a new topic but some variation in what you study will make a difference.
Say you are studying vocabulary, mix in those words in sentences. Or if you are doing math, try to work on different concepts. You never know what correlations you might find to better help you remember.
Find Out How You Concentrate
Maybe you concentrate better when you listen to music while you study, or it completely distracts you and you can’t listen to music.
Maybe you enjoy background noise or think better when it is quiet.
Your environment probably affects how you study: stay in your dorm room or go to the library? Or maybe you like to study at a local cafe.
Where ever you find it most comfortable for you to study, go there. You would be surprised how much your location can affect your state of mind while studying.
While you study it is okay to take breaks and relax. You deserve it. UC Irvine researchers find that stress lasting a couple of hours can engage corticotropin-releasing hormones that disrupt the process of creating and storing memories.
Here is a list of a few things you can do to relax on your study breaks.
Review before bed
Reviewing before bed can help your brain learn the new information while you sleep. There’s even a term for this: sleep-learning.
Since the memory-consolidation process does its best work during slow-wave sleep, your brain could be getting both the restoration and reactivation it needs while you sleep.
This means that reviewing study materials before bed can help your brain learn, even in your sleep.
Things You Can Do to Help You Remember
Scientists started exploring the “curve of forgetting” in 1885.
The gist of the “curve of forgetting” is this: The first time you hear a lecture or study something new, you retain 100% of what you’ve just learned. By the second day, without review, you would have lost 50%-80% of what you learned. By day 7 you remember even less and by day 30 you remember 2%-3% of what you originally learned.
The good news is if you review the material within 24 hours of when you learned it, you retain 100% of the information on day 2. Fortunately, this effect is cumulative; When you review on day 7 you retain 100% again. So on and so forth.
The best part is you may retain 100% of the same information after only five minutes of review.
Generally, this is a better way of study than cramming because instead of trying to learn a semester’s worth of content in one night, you are simply taking 30-40 min a day to look over notes. Easy right?
Studying by testing is another great way to remember information
When you quiz yourself the goal is to be honest with yourself about what you know and what you don’t know.
This will mean asking yourself all kinds of questions; the hard and uncomfortable questions you might not know, or questions you feel you know but aren’t quite 100% on yet, and even the easy questions.
This will help you see exactly what you know and don’t know so can better prepare for your test coming up.
Try to Make Connections As You Read
A quick way to learn is to look for connections between ideas and things you already know, or experiences you have had, as you learn.
This is known as Contextual learning . This method of remembering will require you to customize your own way of learning to make connections that inspires all of the information to fall into place and make sense for you personally.
Write Explanations of Complicated Concepts Like You Are Explaining It To a Child
To use this method to study effectively, first identify what you want to learn. Then, try explaining it to yourself by writing it down, but write as if you are trying to explain it to a five-year-old.
This is known as the Feynman method and it should pinpoint for you what you already know and don’t know about a subject.
Use these tips to help you study smarter not harder. These tips will help you save time and eliminate that day-before- the-exam cram session.
Use them especially for finals to get the best chance at good final grades.
Go get that A!
For More tips on how to study better, check out this article.