Studying for an examination looks different for many students. As you grow through your academic journey, you pick up habits and learn what works for you and what doesn’t. What is best for one student may not be what their peer needs in order for them to best absorb the same material in a way that sticks.
There are many strategies one can try. Today, we will provide 5 of some of the top methods students have found useful for their own study sessions. If you’re looking for a new and different way to go about your own sessions, try introducing one or more of the following tactics!
Keep a consistent schedule and routine for studying each week
Many students have found it helpful to create a stable, structured pattern flow to their weekly study routine. This consists of studying at the same time, on the same days of the week, and in the same trusted space and environment that they have decided works best for them to stay focused. Do you have a specific time of the day your brain seems to focus best? Do you notice it’s easier to sit down and study on a Saturday evening, or a Wednesday morning? Depending on your personal schedule, we recommend choosing days that you know your mind will be able to stay on task and schedule it in advance. In terms of time, while some may find it easier to stay focused following an afternoon walk, others may do better scheduling their studying early in the morning, or late at night. It really comes down to what you know works best for you. The key is in planning them out and sticking to this same schedule, no matter what needs to be studied. Your brain will begin to expect this routine each week, letting it work better in your favor.
Have all your materials organized and prepared in your study space
If you don’t already do this, try getting your study area organized with all the materials you will need for your session. This eliminates a distracting break in focus to leave the area to look for something that you forgot, allowing yourself complete and zeroed in focus without breaking your stride.
Try rewriting the notes you wrote in class as you study
This is something that has proven extremely helpful for many students. According to an interesting Brain Hack Expert article, it states that “rewriting notes after a lecture or as a means of study is great for your brain as you are going through notes that you have written in your own words. Reviewing notes that you have written is great for memorization and helpful for examinations thus reducing stress.” Additionally, check out these ‘Science Backed Links On Why Handwritten Notes Improve Your Memory.’ If you aren’t someone who already utilizes this method, we highly recommend trying it out.
Study smarter, not harder
It is generally much more effective to study more intensely and steadily focused for shorter periods, and more often than it is to cram a lot of studying into longer sessions less often throughout the week. In addition to scheduling a consistent routine planned out in advance, try planning those sessions to be 40-60 minutes in length at most. This method is known as the Intensive Study Method. It involves 4 parts; 2-5 minutes of planning specific and realistic study goals for the session, 30-45 minutes of focused study with minimal distractions, a 10-minute break to walk around/step away, then finally coming back to your study area and reviewing your notes and material you had just studied for the remaining 10 minutes. Do this 3-4 times per week, and we believe it will benefit your study experience.
Try the Retrieval Process
To practice the Retrieval Process, try sitting down and testing yourself during your sessions with a practice test by strictly recalling information from your brain rather than going over notes repeatedly. This proven method helps strengthen these concepts in your mind much better the more you practice. By the time it comes time to recall this information during the exam, your brain will have had plenty of practice pulling information to its forefront on its own, rather than your brain relying on going back to your notes. Not only does it strengthen your memory and cognition, but you will learn to trust what you know. Because of this, it would also be especially helpful for someone with test anxiety.
The more you practice these strategies, the more habitual they will become. We recommend you try out some of these provenly effective methods in your next study sessions and observe any positive changes by month’s end.
“Recipes tell you nothing. Learning techniques is the key.”
— Tom Colicchio
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