Guest blog post by Emily R.
Have you ever studied so hard for an exam, but still didn’t receive the grade that you wanted? Have you stressed out and crammed for an exam the night before? I think most of us have. However, I have some tips and tricks for you that may transform your study habits and may even cause an improvement in your test grades!
Tip #1: Studying starts in class
While sitting in class, be sure to ask questions about anything that seems confusing. If asking questions in front of your class seems a little too daunting, feel free to stay after class and ask the teacher before leaving. When you understand a topic in class, it will be easier to remember it outside of class. Try to focus on everything that the teacher is saying and take down great notes. If it helps, you can put your notes into your own words before writing them down. This can help you understand what the topic is about when you review it a couple of weeks later.
Pro Tip: Bring a highlighter or a bright colored pen and star or circle any piece of information that the teacher says is important, or that may be on the test. This will help you prioritize which sections to study when it comes time to review.
Tip #2: Figure out what helps you learn
There are dozens of different studying techniques; however, not all of them work for everybody. For example, some students have blank notebooks at home and use them to rewrite the notes they took earlier that day in class. This not only enforces the material, but it also shows you clearly what you remember and what you need to work on. Another great studying technique is to make index cards with all of the information you need to know. This is because quizzing yourself is a very efficient studying technique. You can also try making an outline of your textbook readings, watching online videos, or even buying an audio book about the topic and listening to it. Try out some techniques and find which one fits you the best.
Pro Tip: To make a sufficient outline, you can read your notes and the textbook and write down general ideas about each topic with bullet points of anything you deem important. Then, underneath each section, write down a few practice questions regarding the topic of the section. This will help you see how the things you are reading about, are applied to possible test questions.
Tip #3: Make practice tests
Throughout my college career, nothing has helped me more in figuring out exactly what I knew and what I didn’t know, than self-made practice tests. All you need to do is create a practice test out of any sample questions, homework problems, or textbook questions, and put them on some paper without the answers. You can make a couple of tests with different questions in a random order, and then, once you feel confident in the amount you’ve studied, take a practice test and see what you need to work on. Any of the questions you get wrong, you can put on a final practice test to see if you have mastered them by the end of your studying.
Tip #4: Give yourself two weeks
Giving yourself two weeks to study may seem excessive, but allowing yourself to spread out your studying has been shown to help students retain information. Focus on what’s hard for you, but don’t forget to review what is easy, as well. Study a couple of sections every night instead of everything at once. This way, by the time the test gets closer, you’ll be able to review everything you know instead of having to cram the night before your exam. Giving yourself two weeks also allows for you to take any necessary breaks in between. Don’t let too much time pass between studying sessions, but feel free to take a day off if you need to. It is important to let yourself rest in order to focus and stay calm on your test day.
Pro Tip: Find out how many topics are going to be on the test and create a general guide as to which topics you want to cover on which days. This will help you pace your studying correctly. For example, if I had 4 chapters to cover, I would try to split it up so that I spend one week on the first two chapters, and another week on the last two. Keep in mind the length and the level of difficulty of each chapter in order to plan sufficiently. Leave yourself a day or two before the exam in order to do an overview instead of forcing yourself to learn more material.
Tip #5: Give and receive necessary help
You should not feel ashamed to go to extra help or office hours in order to really spend some one-on-one time with your professor and to ask some questions. In high school and in college, office hours, or after school assistance, is a huge help when it comes to reviewing for a test. Go whenever you get stuck on a topic, and also once you feel like you’re almost done studying. This will allow you to ask any final questions that you’ve come up with over the course of your studying. When you’re done getting help and feel confident about the upcoming exam, you should offer your services to peers and other classmates! If someone has a question on a topic, try to teach them about it in the way that you understand it. Nothing enforces ideas and information more than trying to explain it to those who don’t fully understand it. You’ll be doing a great service to others and to yourself!
I hope that these tips have helped you learn a little bit more about effectively studying. Thank you so much for reading and good luck on your upcoming exams!