Have you ever pulled an all-nighter for a test? Or gone into your room to study and just felt lost on some of the questions? There are times where we just do not study or learn correctly and we have to improve on that. It feels good to automatically know the answer to questions and even better to get a high grade in a challenging class. I went through most of my high school career just absorbing the information without having to study at all, but now that I’m in college, I have to prepare and actually work on my own time to earn my grades. Today we'll be going over 8 psychological study tips to help you study more and learn quicker.
Tip #1: Use Different Media
Just as many of you watch my animated videos on book reviews rather than just reading the book, you should be using different methods of studying. You might have no motivation to read the book, and have slower reading skills, and watching a video with the same information will help you immensely more. A study in 2008 states that “The more regions of the brain that store data about a subject, the more interconnection there is. This redundancy means students will have
more opportunities to pull up all of those related bits of data from their multiple storage areas in response to a single cue.” There are many ways that you can use this key. One very well known site is Khan Academy, where you can watch videos, complete practice questions, as well as ask people in the community about issues that you've had. A few other examples of switching your study methods are: flashcards, YouTube videos, audio exercises, apps such as Quizlet, as well as just studying with friends at a library or over Skype.
Tip #2: Spread Studying Over Time
Many students cram on the last day, and if you're watching this video while cramming, then you can still use this, just less efficiently than if you had planned better. Planning is a key component of life, and can be applied here. If you have a test Friday, and it's currently Monday, then spread the studying over those 5 days. You will have much less stress, much less work each day, and will actually remember it better because each day you are only working on a certain sector of the chapter, leaving more room for focus. It might seem counter intuitive, but for most people you’ll be better off study a chapter a day instead of 5 chapters all at once. Be self-aware though, you could be in the slight category where this doesn’t work, you just have to know how you learn best. The same idea applies for essays. Instead of writing it all in one day and staying up until 3AM, each day of the week write one paragraph, and instead of 3 hours in one day, you get it done with 30 minutes a day and a higher grade.
Tip #3: Connect What You're Leaning with Something You Know
This is a key tip. Whenever I had related an idea in class to something outside of school, I would remember it because I knew it actually applied to my life, rather than being something trivial that wouldn't amount to anything in real life. For instance, in biology we were learning that energy could never be created or destroyed, but could be transferred or changed from one form to another. I had just finished reading a book on how any obstacle can be turned into an advantage, so negative energy was actually a good thing because you actually have something that you can convert into positive energy, so the same idea held true here where you can't destroy negative energy, but you can use it for something productive. An example is if you are angry, it's good you have the energy, and you can use it to workout, per say. Many ideas in science, history, English and math apply in real life situations. Think about how history repeats itself, or how you can use the English language to communicate more effectively as a leader, or even if you own a business, how you have to be good with numbers to succeed. Another interesting, yet useful example is to use any form of connection possible. For example, my brother was studying for his states and capital tests in 5th grade. I taught him that Florida looked like a… well, a tallywacker. I then told him what tallywacker meant, and he connected the tallywacker idea to Tallahassee and to this day he still remembers what the capital is. It doesn’t matter if it’s politically incorrect or crude or whatever, if it works, it works, and that’s what will get you a good grade on the test. Just, uhh… don’t write tallywacker as the capital for Florida.
Tip #4: Test Yourself
This is self-explanatory. If you quiz yourself and you do well, the confidence will lead to a higher grade and will also show you where you need to improve. There are many ways to do this, one of which is searching up practice tests online, looking at questions in textbooks, as well as quizzing yourself with friends. There is no excuse to not do this as there are so many resources on the internet. Using this, you will see what you are strong at and won't waste time studying the things you already Know. Again, quizlet is a great site to visit for this in a pinch. Also, typing in the initial questions and answers will greatly help.
Tip #5: Get Sleep
I get it, if you're cramming right now or have pulled all-nighters in the past, then it may pay off once in a while. However, as a general rule of thumb you want to be getting a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night to function properly. If you're not getting enough sleep your IQ actually drops if tested as you are not able to think as quickly, and your mental age drops. This can snowball into more stress, lower grades, and even less sleep in the future. If you sleep 4 hours a night consistently you will burn out. It not only leads to being miserable, which is horrible in this short life, but also to gaining fat and becoming less and less energetic. There’s rumors Einstein slept 10 hours a day, and had day-time naps as well, showing that even a genius needs sleep.
Tip #6: Sit at the Front
Those that sit in the front almost always get higher grades than those in the back. In some classes where you are seated alphabetically you can ask to sit in the front because "you can't see very well." It may be the stereotype that the worse students sit in the back or just the fact that it's harder to concentrate when you're not being watched by the teacher, however if you want to use statistics to your advantage, pick a seat in the front. If this is not possible for some reason(which is very rarely the case), then listen closer in class. This is more important than studying in many subjects as the teacher is the one who makes the tests, and will give tips inadvertently or purposefully, allow you to know what is important to know for the test and what is not. Asking the teacher questions throughout class will also raise your learning retention rate.
Tip #7: Use Study Breaks
For me, studying gets unproductive if I try to focus for too long, which is why cramming is ineffective after a while. You have to take breaks. What I like to do is break my work into chunks. For instance, if I have to read 20 pages of a textbook one night, then I will break that into chunks of 5 pages each, focus intensely, and then take a 5 minute break in between each chunk. This allows me to enjoy the process and not see it as a daunting task of reading 20 pages in one sitting, unless the reading captures my attention and I can’t put it down. It has been proven that after about 45 minutes your focus will begin to decline, but after a 5 minute break for walking, stretching, or watching an entertaining YouTube video, you will have enough energy for another 45 minutes of studying. If you want a more scientific approach to this method, check out the Pomodoro technique.
Tip #8: Workout
This is more of a lifestyle tip, however your entire lifestyle is more important than one test. Similar to sleeping, exercise gives you energy to enjoy life. I'd rather enjoy life and do well for the most part, possibly messing up on one test rather than cramming for a test, feeling drained for the next few days, and not having good habits. Working out makes you feel good about yourself. I'm not saying that unhealthy people are bad people, however if you want to do well in dating, social situations, and have more confidence, then having a fit body will help dramatically.
Now that you have those 8 tips for studying and learning more effectively, the key is to apply them to your life one at a time, and not only your grades, but your lifestyle will change for the better as well.