It’s December our favorite time of year because of Chris—finals! JK. Finals was the time of year, as I recall them, when I gained the most weight and got the most zits because it was just so freaking stressful. A huge part of prepping for a major exam is figuring out which study hacks work best for you and using ones that are effective. It would be a total shame to spend so much time reviewing materials only to realize you know nothing (Jon Snow) on the day of the test. Here are some tried and true study techniques and some others that surprisingly don’t work.
Effective Study Methods
Flashcards: Yes, flashcards actually work. They’re excellent for memorizing key terms, concepts and ideas. If your test is multiple choice then this is an ideal study method. If you have to explain ideas this is a great way to learn each one. It’s also great for memorizing equations and formulas. Flashcards won’t come in so handy if you have to write a persuasive essay or respond to an unpredictable prompt.
Overlearning: Studies show that it’s more effective to continue studying after you’ve felt you’ve got it. Once you feel you’ve completely learned something, it’s recommended to study 1/4 of the original study time more.
Review Material: Don’t wait until the last minute. Students who don’t review material after its been learned can lose 80% of the information after just two weeks. Review! Review! Review! The more you review your work consistently the less studying you’ll need to do during midterms and finals.
Ineffective Study Methods
Highlighting and underlining text. Great, so you highlighted something because it’s important but do you actually remember it? Can you discuss it? No because you just color coated it.
Rereading: Reading something over and over doesn’t mean you’ve memorized it or can actually talk about it. Let’s face it, you’re just staring at the page after a certain point. It’s more effective to jot down your thoughts so that you can accurately gauge how much of the material you’ve absorbed. You should be testing yourself before the test.
Mnemonics: A funny acronym might be the thing that saves you sometimes but for the most part they are just a distraction. You’ll focus all your energy on remembering what each letter stands for that would have been better spent on learning how to explain those concepts and think critically about them. Memorization is the starting point of learning but it’s not the definition of learning.