It is often the case that students find studying to be the most difficult part of any exam. Maybe it is the overwhelming amount of material that will be covered on the exam or the thought that the covered material is not very interesting to you. Or perhaps learning the material does not come easy to you. Even if one of these is the case, there are some very practical tips that students can follow to use available study time most effectively. Here are some ideas that might help you as you study:
1.) Organizing your notes for a class will help reduce the load put on your memory, leaving you more cognitive “space” to retain the material presented.
2.) Do not just highlight and re-read course material. Taking the time to elaborate on, describe, and test yourself on the material will provide you with a deeper processing of the material (which then results in better memory)!
3.) Associate what you are learning with things you already know. Often current knowledge can provide excellent retrieval cues for newly learned material.
4.) Avoid the “illusion of learning.” Familiarity with the material does not equal comprehension and understanding of material.
5.) Take breaks while studying. Your brain needs time to consolidate the information you are learning!
6.) Distribute your studying across multiple study sessions. It can be difficult to maintain close attention through a long study session, and studying after a break gives you feedback about what you already know.
By taking the time to organize your thoughts, your material, and your study space you will be better rested and better prepared to suceed on your exams. Good luck and good studying!
Dr. Lanter is an Associate Professor of Human Development and Director of the UWGB Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning