Studying for dummies


10 Tips and Tricks for Foolproof Studying

Do you struggle with studying? Is an approaching quiz or test stressing you out because you have no idea how to study for it? If the answer is yes, try these ten tips and tricks to study more efficiently and ace the exam day.

1: Use a timer
Set a timer for 25 minutes, and begin to study. Once it goes off, take a 3-4 minute break. Study for another 25 minutes. This time, take a 5-6 minute break. Alternate between these longer breaks and shorter ones. Keep doing this for as long as you can.

At the end of each 25 minutes, think about rewarding yourself if you remember or understand something you didn’t before. You can use candy or another “prize,” and increase the reward as you grow less motivated, or the material grows harder.

2: Mimic the exam environment
Give yourself a “dress rehearsal.” Try changing the place you usually study to mimic the area in which you’ll be tested. For example, if your classroom is typically cold, study in front of a fan or turn up the A/C. If it’s hot, put on a jacket or use a blanket. Basically, just make your study environment similar to where you’ll be taking the test, and you’re more likely to remember what you studied on test day. This phenomenon is called context dependent learning, and it’s a sneaky way to trick your brain into remembering what you studied when it’s time to use it.

3: Review
Regularly repeat information that you want to remember. It’s proven that material that is looked over more than once will most likely be retained better, so it’s a good idea to stop studying the new material once in a while, maybe every 20 minutes or so, and quiz yourself on what you’ve already studied. This is an easy way to prevent that annoying “it’s right on the tip of my tongue!” feeling during a test.

4: Turn your phone off
Bet you saw this one coming. Unless you’re using a study app, it’s a good idea to put your phone in another room, or at least turn it off while you study. One minute can easily turn into 30 when you’re looking at your phone, so it’s better just to eliminate the distraction entirely. So save that text conversation or social media check for afterwards, or during one of your breaks. Your grade will thank you!

5: Make acronyms and songs
It’ll seem a bit silly, but it works wonders for memorization. Remembering words or phrases with a funny acronym or song will help you recall that information during a test, no matter how dumb or random it is. A classic is the one for remembering the order of the planets as Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. But all you have to remember is My Very Enthusiastic Mother Just Served Us Noodles!

6: Make a one-pager
Obviously you won’t be able to fit every little piece of information onto a single page, but being able to process and reorganize the information onto one page, prioritizing the most important first, is the best way to study when a lot of the material is conceptual. Plus, if this is done for every test, when final exams roll around, your easy-to-manage study guides are already made!

7: Do practice problems
See what you’ve got! Find practice problems online for whatever subject you’re studying for, or see if your teacher can provide some. A good site to use is Khan Academy, which has problems for math, science, economics and more. Application is a good way to make sure you’re studying the right information, and practice problems are an easy way to find out what you know and what you don’t.

8: Study with music
Listening to music while you work can help to put you in a better mood, or even make you more focused. It can also lower stress levels by offering soothing background noise. Classical music, or songs without lyrics, are common genres for studying. However, this doesn’t work for everyone. If the music method turns out to be distracting, don’t use it.

9: Create mental associations
Creating mental connections is not only an easy way to remember something, but it’s also the fuel of creativity and intelligence. Mind maps are an easy way to connect ideas by creating a visual overview of different connections. Start with the broadest concept in the middle, and make branches off of it with facts or material connected to it, and then branches off of those concepts, and then off of those, and so on.

10: If all else fails—cram
The act of cramming all the information into your head an hour or two — or ten minutes — before the test is more of an emergency method than anything. Using it will not help you retain the information at a later date, but it can be used when in a pinch. Ideally, you can combine it with normal study habits for the best results.