Studying is not always so difficult
Many students have difficulty with studying without spending countless hours repeatedly looking through their notes and reading about a topic. This may work for some people but is that really the best way to study effectively?
Simply put, NO.
I am sure that most of us have probably said our self or heard someone say “I studied so much for this test and I still didn’t get an A”. If you or someone else spent several hours preparing for a test and went to class and took notes and still did not reach their goal then the problem at hand is the way you study,
A couple of bad study habits are cramming and repetition. Cramming does not work because our brains simply cannot learn all the material on a single test in such a short period of time. It is like trying to remember all the details of a car after only seeing it a couple times very briefly. You might remember it’s color and size but were there any scratches or dents? Cramming might not always be avoidable with the busy life a student has but the point is that cramming may let you learn the big topics but it will be very hard to remember the small details.
Repetition… I have heard so many professors tell this to everyone in my classes. I feel that this is bad advice because it is incomplete. Repetition is not effective on its own or in its simplest form. Repeating over class material will give a false sense of confidence when going into a test because when you go over notes and slides you get so use to them you already know what to expect after a while. The problem is you are not really thinking about the information in depth. Using this along with cramming is a recipe for disaster.
So what can you do to get an A?
Instead of repetition or cramming the absolute 2 best study techniques you can incorporate into your study sessions is spacing and testing. I learned these two study techniques in my first semester of college and have been using them with great success since I started taking my studies more seriously.
Spacing is when you space your studying out in different intervals through the days leading to an exam. This would be done by studying every other day on one subject and studying another subject on the other days. Spacing 1 subject every other day is only one example of a pattern to try. This allows for you to forget what you have not learned well enough and recall what you have studied well when you come back to that material. If you follow this routine the things you learn will be better engraved into your memory with less chance to be forgotten. When you have forgotten something then you know you should work on studying it more.
Testing is an equally important study tip. There is a reason why professors give pop quizzes and homework to their students. These tasks help students retrieve what they know in an applied way instead of an isolated way like repeating notes in your head. If you have to take a test in order to pass a class, why not test yourself in preparation for the test? Your professors may give you study guides that are only in the form of questions for you to answer so thank them if you do! I use to hate getting a study guide like this but now I love them because I don’t have to make questions on my own.
When you do have to make your own test questions or just want extra questions to practice you can use one of the many free quizzing flashcard sites. I personally prefer Quizlet.com because it has so many features you can use without paying any money as well as thousands of other students’ flashcards already prepared for you. Another word of advice is to focus on any questions that draw on a broad topic and try to recall as much as you can about that topic. More specific questions are sometimes too narrow to be of much help.
After testing yourself for a while you will start to see what you have and have not studied enough. When you have done this then you can refer back to your notes to refresh and re-test again once you are ready. Combining this trick with a spacing routine should have you mastering your material in half the time you would spend just reading over your notes. If you take these two study techniques seriously they will help bring you that A you’ve been hoping for by the end of the semester.