You’re in the thick of the school year. It seems like there are so many things going on, like assignments, projects, and extracurricular activities. Now a test is coming up and you’ve got to do well on it. How should you study so you do better on that test?
First of all keep in mind that good students begin the test preparation process several days before the actual test. It is a good idea to review your notes every day. Keep in mind that this is simply something to help you jog your memory about the day’s topics. That way, you give your brain another chance to soak up the information. Hopefully, doing this review will make future studying less time consuming and less of a learning process. When you study for a test, you shouldn’t be learning something completely new. Frantic last-minute cramming of new material results in faulty understanding, poor recall, and low exam grades. It is faster and easier to recall something you have already learned than to learn something entirely new.
Where you study is important. Find a place that’s readily available with minimal distractions. A popular place for most students to study is at home. However, for some, home can be too distracting as it’s easy to get side tracked. What may help is if you study in a place that’s similar to the place where you’re going to take the test. When you study, you might associate certain topics with the environment. So if you take the test in a similar environment, you can more easily retrieve these associations. For example, if you’re going to write a test in a lecture room, it may help to study in a lecture room (if at all possible!)
The next item you need to determine is what kind of student are you? Do you work better in a group or by yourself? Some students find it easier to work in a study group. In this type of group you are allowed the opportunity to bounce ideas off of similar minds, gain valuable insight on something you may have overlooked, and focus on critical areas of the test. However, some students find it easier to work alone. They may find their studying skills don’t match the others around them or possibly a group setting to be too distracting. Think about how you like to study, do you like to ask others questions or their thoughts on a topic? Or do you prefer to read and interpret the material yourself? Find which way which best fits your studying style and stick with it.
There are various methods you can use when studying. For example, when studying for a test you may like to read through your textbook, read through course notes, answer textbook questions, re-do past assignments, review previous tests, research online, or just talk to friends or teachers about it the topic. You can also use memory-improving techniques like mnemonics, visualization, and association to recall everything you need. Trying a combination of these different studying methods (and then tracking your results) will really assist you in doing well.
A tried and true method that works for most is studying small sections at a time, rather than trying to ingest large pieces of information. For most students, studying large pieces at a time can overwhelm your brain and you begin forgetting the topics you studied first. This can become easily frustrating and derail you from your goal. Studying small pieces of information, then taking a break to do something else, gives your brain a chance to rest and properly absorb the new material it has just learned. Try also rehearsing what you study. If needed, speak what you have learned out loud and repeat it often. The more times you speak it out loud, the more likely it is to be easier to recall during test time.
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