When it comes to studying for an exam, everyone has their own preferred methods. Some may say they have a holy grail way to that allows them to be successful. I’ve tried many, if not all, of these study methods, wondering which one is the most effective. In order to get the most out of your study session, read more to find out which study method you should be sticking to.
1. Reading your notes.
Let's say you have an exam coming up in biology covering the last five textbook chapters. Looking over the notes you took in class and re-reading the textbook is a good way to study for that exam. Will this method allow you to ace it? While this may be the easiest method, it is surely not the most effective. When your notes are right in front of you, it can allow you to feel like you know the material more than you actually do. This is called passive review, where you're not actually learning but passively recognizing the material in front of you. Psychologists Henry Roediger and Mark McDaniel suggest you use other methods that require active recall, a more effective way to learn things.
2. Rewriting your notes.
Some say the best way to learn is through writing. By writing something down, as opposed to typing, you remember it better. A way to study is to rewrite the notes you took in class, perhaps in a more condensed manner. Making a "review sheet" is also an effective way to review your notes and remember the most important parts.
Stacks on stacks of index cards may hold all the vocabulary terms you need to know for your next exam. Flip through your index cards at lightning speed and you may be able to recall all the important terms. However, using the Leitner System is the most effective way to go through flashcards. Simply repeat the terms you know the least and study those the most.
4. Avoid all-nighters.
Some people swear by pulling an all-nighter to cram for an exam. A couple cups of coffee and a sleepover in the library may seem like the trick to acing your exam. However, according to Dr. David Earnest, sleep deprivation makes your brain less functional. Everything you review in the late night hours stays in short-term memory as opposed to long-term memory. In order to transfer information from short-term to long-term, you need to utilize higher brain functions, all of which are compromised when you haven't gotten enough zzz's.
5. Listening to music.
Everyone has their own preferences for study music. Some prefer jamming out to catchy radio songs during a study session while some can only listen to classical piano. Should you listen to music at all while you’re studying? While music can be seen as distracting, it can also keep you energized and motivated. Music without lyrics is specifically an effective way to help you study. However, according to research, studying in quiet conditions leads to more effective studying. It is clear that what works best for some people may not work the best for others. If you know that you're someone that finds music helpful during your study sessions, go for it!
6. Teaching your topic.
Playing the teacher may seem silly, but you can learn a lot from teaching your exam material to someone else. That someone may be your roommate, your mom or your teddy bear. By teaching the material to another person or in a study group, you become responsible for it. You will therefore conceptualize it, in efforts to give someone else a better understanding of the material.
Looking into the science behind your study method will allow you to recognize what's actually going on in your brain while you're studying. Everyone is different and what works for some may not always work for others. Practice a study method that works for you and you'll surely ace your next exam!
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