The following is a guest post written by Alexa Styliadis of NextStepU.
One of the most common issues college students face is not knowing the correct way to study. The go-to study technique many students use is reviewing notes. If you find that reviewing your class notes the night before a test is just not cutting it, here are some helpful study tips for you to use!
1. Take good notes
Taking good notes during class can drastically improve your test scores. The key is to write down key points without getting into too much detail. When you look over the notes you have taken while you are studying, you want them to be clear and concise. In class, you may write down a couple of words thinking you will remember what they meant later on, but oftentimes, you will not. You want the information in your notes to be understandable as well as legible. Write your notes as if you were going to let someone who missed class borrow them.
2. Find a good study space
While your friends may swear by studying in the library, that may not be the best space for you. Some cognitive scientists suggest that alternating your study space can help you remember more information. If you change your location every time you study, your memory may be more likely to remember what you have learned. A quiet place might be best for you to be the most productive. It is important to find a space that works best for you.
3. Make flashcards
Although it may be looked at as old school, a very helpful study technique is making flashcards. Writing notes and definitions more than once is proven to help you remember information. Once you write out your notecards, go over a few at a time throughout the week, and your memory will begin to recognize the information and save it for later.
4. Don’t cram
While it’s tempting to put off studying until the very last minute, it is not in your best interest to do so. Good study habits come from pacing yourself and not waiting until the night before a test to look over your notes. Start studying at least a week in advance to give yourself enough time to prepare and to reduce your test stress.
5. Get enough sleep
Similar to it being important not to cram the night before, it is also important to get enough sleep! When you are tired, you are not going to perform as well as you could. Getting the recommended eight hours of sleep will do wonders for your mind and body.
6. Stay organized
When you have everything organized, you are going to have less anxiety and feel more prepared. Keep a detailed calendar of your exam dates and time blocks you are going to devote to studying. When you write down study times, stick to them. Do not fall into the trap of pushing your study time back when it gets to be that time. Procrastination is not your friend!
7. Take breaks
Studying for exams can be difficult. Make sure you take short breaks while you are studying to allow your brain to process and retain the information you have reviewed. Although you may think studying hours on end without taking breaks is helpful, it is not. Reward yourself with a 15-minute breather, and then return back to your work.
8. Use mnemonic devices
This method of studying can help you more easily recall definitions, formulas, key concepts, and so on. A popular example of this is the math term, PEMDAS—also known as, “Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally,” which stands for parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction. Mnemonics can be extremely helpful when studying.
9. Eat nutritious foods
What we eat and drink affects our concentration and memory. It is important to provide your body with the brain food it needs to retain information! If you eat something high in protein before studying, you will be more alert. If you skip eating, or if you eat something high in carbohydrates, you will likely feel more sluggish and be less productive. Caffeine can also have negative effects on our brain chemistry. While you are studying (and before an exam), you should try to avoid drinking too much coffee or tea.
10. Test yourself
Repeat, repeat, repeat. Students remember more information when they force themselves to retrieve concepts they have reviewed. Look at a definition and make yourself remember the term that goes with it. Quizzing yourself, or having someone else quiz you, is one of the best ways to prepare for the real deal.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.