Remember those times you argued with your parents that you need the music loud when you study? Maybe you’ve heard about studying at the same times every day. Everyone seems to think they know what’s best for you. In some cases, they may be right, but research shows us there is a lot more to it. And how you study also depends on whether you want to learn the material or just pass the test. So, blare the music if it helps you, but consider using some of the tips below to help you get a leg up on your education — these can help you get your study on, no matter if you’re 16 or 86.
Recreate the Environment for Tests
Every college student goes through those times when they have to take classes they don’t feel like they really need. After all, what does U.S. History 101 really have to do with your IT degree? These core classes are the ones that students struggle with the most because they aren’t really learning anything new and interesting. Yet, you still have to “make the grade”, so to speak.
When it comes to studying for tests, most especially when they involve subjects you aren’t interested in, the best method is to study in an environment that is as similar to the test-taking environment as possible — right down to the socks you’re wearing. Why? Because when you go to take the test, your brain associates the environment with the content. The suggestions below will help get you started. Just remember to avoid adding things you can’t add in the classroom, like watching your favorite Game of Thrones episodes while cramming biology.
Chew a specific type of gum or keep a specific type of candy in your mouth. Wear the same top, jeans, and even socks. Style your hair the same way (Don’t add that headband that you keep fidgeting with on test day). Sit in the same position. Use the same pencil, pen or stylus. Wear the same perfume or cologne (if that’s your thing).
Immersion is Key
Whenever possible, it’s best to add as many layers of immersion as possible. The more involved you are in the content, the more apt you are to remember the details. When you’re reading about chemical interactions, try them yourself with safety in mind, or watch a video on YouTube so you can experience the interactions.
Use music to awaken the senses. Remember in grade school when you memorized that song that only involved the states in alphabetical order? Have you watched those episodes of SchoolHouse Rock? 20 years later, you’ll probably still be able to sing it. Now, you may not be able to bust out in song when you’re taking a test in class, but you can play it in your head. Make up your own jingle so help you memorize bits of information.
Distractions: Good or Bad?
This one is difficult to address. Have you ever walked into a home with a sleeping baby? The mother may tell you to be quiet so you don’t wake the baby. In reality, if that same mother played music, turned a fan on, or even vaccuumed whle the baby was sleeping, distractions wouldn’t bother them. However, when you create an environment of silence, sleeping, or studying doesn’t go well when there are distractions. So, if there are distractions in the classroom, you may need to find a way to include them in your study time or find out if you can wear noise cancelling headphones during the test.
Get Involved with Groups
People don’t study in groups just because of the social factors. Group study allows you to experience various points of view. The more information and variety you experience on a topic during your study time, the more likely you are to actually learn about the subject instead of just memorizing the content.
Use Your Voice
How many times have you read something and had no understanding at all of what you just read? Instead of powering through, put what you do understand into your own words, as you understand it. If the subject matter is easy for you to comprehend, then just write a sentence after each paragraph to sum up what you read. If it’s a difficult topic, write a sentence or note after every one or two sentences you read In this way, you put the information into terms that are easy for you to comprehend, and you can review your notes later rather than trying to remember what you were supposed to get out of the written text.