If you’ve ever read the same page of notes 25 times and failed to retain even a small morsel of valuable information, you should be comforted by the idea that we’ve all been there. When the material for an upcoming test isn’t particularly interesting, it can be hard to get over the inherent tendency to procrastinate and to actually sit down and study. Before losing yourself to stress over your next big test, try these 10 helpful study hacks:
1. Dual encoding
Most people learn best when processing information using two different methods for internalizing study material. Studies show that using both your left and right brain will improve your memory significantly. For your next big test, switch off between studying with flashcards and rehearsing the information out loud. This will help both hemispheres of your brain share the load of memorization. For study technique apps for both your right and left brain, check out College Choice’s Top 15 Study Apps for College Students.
2. Figure out what type of learning works best for you through trial and error
If you’re unsure whether you’re a visual, auditory, or tactile learner, try different techniques and see which gets you the highest score on tests. To test your aptitude in visual learning, use visual aides such as maps, diagrams, flow charts, or illustrations. To test auditory learning, read textbooks out loud to yourself and listen to a recorded tape of your lectures. For tactile learning, walk, doodle, or exercise while trying to memorize and see how it improves your memory.
3. Don’t let yourself procrastinate!
Do your best to avoid the Internet and social media while studying. If this seems impossible, use a program like this Self Control App to block distracting sites for a certain period of time.
4. Instead of using the Internet to procrastinate, use it to help you study
Try an online interactive flash card site like Quizlet to save time writing all the information manually. You can even use flash cards that other people have made studying for the same subject!
5. Take breaks, but make sure not to extend them
Use reward and punishment in order to motivate effective and time-savvy studying. Tell yourself that if you study for an hour, you’ll reward yourself with a 25 minute TV break. Make sure to use a timer to ensure that you don’t extend your break longer than you intended it to be!
6. Use exercise as both a health booster and a great stress reliever
Not only is exercise good for overall health and fitness, but it’s also a great way to keep you calm, energized, and refreshed both while studying and before an exam.
7. Chew Gum
Studies show that chewing gum while studying helps you focus and acts as a brain booster. For added effect, chew the same flavor of gum during the actual exam that you chewed while studying, the taste will jog your memory!
8. Eat and sleep!
Although this may seem obvious, getting a good night’s rest before a big study day and before an exam will prevent you from feeling drowsy and unproductive. Eat healthy, nutritious, foods while working – check out BuzzFeed’s 17 Power Snacks for Studying for some good snack ideas!
9. Teach to Learn
Oftentimes when studying, we can deceive ourselves into believing we have a complete grasp of an idea by glancing over it. For more complicated topics, teach someone else the material you’re trying to understand as a simple way to discover if you have a basic grasp of the concepts. The best test of whether or not you understand the entirety of a concept is your ability to teach it to someone else. Ask people who lack knowledge on the subject you’re studying to act as your students – teach them the material and ask how well they understood your explanation. Allow them to ask questions of clarification for anything that may be confusing or complicated.
10. Pick your setting wisely
For your next test, set up a table and chair in your backyard and see if you’re able to study there. If that doesn’t work, switch off between studying on your kitchen table and in the library – sometimes all you need is a change of scenery to avoid getting restless!
The most important key to acing a test is to avoid procrastination and to figure out which study method works best for you. Constantly try out new study habits and see which lands you the highest scores. Happy studying!