Exam Season Is Here! But Don’t Worry, We’ve Got The Best Study Secrets For You

Let’s be honest: no one likes exam time. It’s filled with hard work, late nights, and plenty of stress. The good news: it doesn’t have to be. By using the correct study methods (and the right stationery, of course), you can get the most value out of your time. Studying is a skill, and with practice and using the right methods, you can cruise through these tough times and earn the marks you deserve. We’ve used secrets from the S.O.A.R. program from the book, Developing Effective Study Habits written by the top experts at Mayland Community College. And no, you don’t need special genetics; these three tips can work for everyone at any age – click the link above to read the entire program for all the details.

1. First, understand what kind of learner you are.   

We all learn differently, but in general, there are three main learning channels: by sight (visual), by sound (auditory), or by feel (a hands-on approach, such as practising the physical side of writing). We all use these three channels, but in different degrees, but we all tend to lean more on one of the three – but you can improve your studying by developing all three channels.
  • To improve as a visual learner: Use colours in your notes (highlighters, gel pens, and so on). Draw pictures and diagrams and create mind maps. Use graphics to reinforce learning and harness videos.
  • To improve as an auditory learner: Listen to tapes of recorded assignments. Record your readings and create voice notes. Talk and discuss with other students and use class discussions.
  • To improve as a hands-on learner: stand up and move around while studying and take frequent breaks. Be physically active; experiment with objects and use memory drills while walking or exercising. Keep writing summaries as you research and use your computer to reinforce learning.

2. Use smart reviews to upgrade your learning.

If you do this right, it will take up less time, but you’ll remember more.
  • Start with daily reviews: Ideally, these should be done on the same day as your classes. You should read and review notes before each class and then review notes immediately after each class or within 24 hours for best results. FACT: Studies show that as much as 80% of material learned in class is forgotten within 24 hours if there’s no review.
  • Weekly reviews: At the end of the week, go over your notes. This refreshes your memory and promotes better recall of the material. Repetition is the key to remembering. The more times you look at the material, the stronger you make the neural (brain) pathways that lead to the material.
  • Pre-exam reviews: These are longer, from three to five hours. Study at your peak: when you have the highest energy levels and are most awake. This will differ if you are a morning or evening person. Break your study sessions into one-hour blocks with ten-minute breaks in between. Get up, stretch, get a drink, and move around during your break. The more active you are, the more effective your study time will be. A tired body only makes a tired mind.
  • Bonus study time: Whenever you have a few free minutes, study. Create small study cards and take them with you. Or create voice notes or recordings and take them with you.

3. Use the SQ3R method: Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review.

Go through the study chapter quickly and focus on the bold print and images. Get an idea of how the info is structured. Then, turn all the headings in the chapter into questions – this will increase your comprehension and bring up the info you have already. This makes the crucial points stand out as you read and forces you to think about what you’re reading. Then, read the material to find answers to the questions. Underline, highlight, and got down notes. Keep asking those questions, and if you don’t have the answers, reread the passages. Next, recite aloud the answer to the question you asked prior to reading a section of the text and say it in your own words. If you find you can’t answer your question, go back and look for the answer. After reading the entire chapter, review the notes you made to familiarize yourself with the vital information. Check your memory by reciting the main points out loud. Then review the main points in your notes, making sure you understand them. Don’t wait until exam time to review your textbook. Review once a week all the readings from that week. Be sure you can summarize the key points. Write them down to further reinforce learning.
To help move all this information from short-term memory to long-term memory: Visualize the content. Highlight the important points. Talk about it with others. And then, don’t stop reviewing the info. Read it out loud to make sure it has stuck. Good luck!
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