It is that time of year when many students have exams. You may not feel like studying or want to do it, but it is one of those things you need to. The good news is that help is at hand! Scientists have researched the best ways to study and if you use these tips you can study smarter rather than harder.
Here are a few of the research findings to help you:
1. Little and often. The first time you learn something new, if you review the material again within 24 hrs you have the best chance of retaining up to 80% of it. And this is cumulative, meaning that the more you review the material, the higher chance you have of retaining more. Now days we know that this is because going over material thickens the neural pathway formed as you learn new things. The more repetition the stronger the neural pathway. So break up your study time to shorter times with more repetition.
2. Active recall. Make connections as you study rather than reread or highlight. Studies have shown that this is not effective as no connections are made, but you can fool yourself as it feels as though you are learning. How can you actively recall? By closing a book and reciting the information, making mind maps or using flash cards. The principle is to make sure your brain is actively engaged with what you are studying.
3. Share your learning. Studies have shown that students have better recall and memory when learning new information if they expected to have to teach the information to someone else. This is because as you learn, you have to organize and prioritise key elements of information to be able to explain it to others. So try sharing what you have learnt with a parent, fellow students or imagine your self teaching to an imaginary classroom.
4. Practice, Practice, Practice. Incorporate practice tests into your study time. A study showed students who tested themselves with a practice test after learning the material retained 50% more of the information a week later than those who did not take a practice test. Practicing helps with retention, helps identify gaps in your knowledge as well as relaxing you and helping you feel more confident.
These are only four of the study tips that scientists have shown that work. I could write more, but I know that can create overwhelm and it is far better that we put these into practice first. So which one can you use to help you study smarter rather than harder?