- Learn how you study best
I know this is a cliche and you’ve heard it all your life, but it really is true. Some people do better studying when they’re using multi-colored highlighters to color code everything and keep it organized. Some think recording themselves reading their notes and listening to it like music helps. Some like to rewrite their notes. Some think it’s helpful to study for hours while others like to take breaks. If you’re not quite sure what helps you, try multiple different methods for a bit and see how they turn out. Even if they do not work the best, it is still studying. Once you know how you learn best, however it is, stick with it.
- Know how the test is set-up
Different kinds of tests can not only affect how you should study, but knowing prior to taking the test allows you to prepare more efficiently. If the test is multiple choice and focuses on the definitions of terms used in class, flashcards might be helpful. If the test is more application-based whether it be multiple choice or short answers, it would probably be helpful to explain the different terms and concepts to someone else so you can prepare for explaining them on the test. Essays can be a little trickier to study for, but I find that preparing an outline using the information works best if I’m given an idea of what question I’ll be asked. If you’re not given a question, it’s probably better to just study how you usually would.
- Use highlighters or different colored pens
I suggested this previously, but it really helps me. Even if I’m not really trying to color code anything, using the different colors just makes studying more fun. My notes look prettier and it helps me stay focused. I think using different colors helps to keep my eyes directed on the notes rather than something else and helps me categorize the information in mind. I also like to use the color coded information to make a shorter, more comprehensive notes sheet.
- Post-it notes
Post-it notes work best when I’m trying to write essays. I think writing the information on post-its allows me to move them around and better organize the information so when I do eventually write the paper, it flows better. I also like post-its because I can write important information down and keep it in my planner or my notes so when I open them, I’m reminded of that bit of information and it sticks better. This method really only works for big concepts or strong points though.
- Study ahead
I do it. You do it. We all do it, most of the time, honestly. Yet, we all know that we shouldn’t. After a long day of doing homework that is due in the next upcoming days, the last thing I want to do is study for an exam that is still three weeks away, but that’s exactly what I should do, and you should, too. Studying ahead really does keep the information locked in your brain and easier to access when you are taking an exam or writing a paper. Cramming is easier and quicker and takes up less time, but you’re more likely to forget the information on your way to the test and less likely to actually remember small details when they are mentioned on the test. I really am not sure why that is, but it’s true. Studying 20 minutes a day two weeks before a test can really make all the difference.
- Teach someone else
Especially when you’re trying to learn concepts in psychology, sociology, history, or political science, explaining them to other people can really help you comprehend all of the aspects of the concept. This may work for the sciences, too, I’m not sure because I’ve never tried, but it might be difficult if the person you’re talking with doesn’t really understand medications or circuits. I just don’t know because I haven’t had the experience. Anyways, becoming the teacher really forces you to understand the concept. Encouraging your friend to challenge and question you helps as well.