Make flashcards early, and continue to make and review a few each day.
- This one might be one of the most effective because making flashcards not only stimulates your brain, but also allows you to make visual progress as to when you can throw the ones you know away over time. Once the exam comes, you’ll be a pro on the material.
Review the material by re-writing it.
- Many recommended this tip and also paired this tip up with another: reading your notes out loud. It’s the same concept of meeting someone, and then immediately saying their name out loud, your chances of remembering that name increases dramatically. Once you visualize it, and hear it, the information sticks much easier. So as you re-write your old notes, you should then go and say them out loud to double your chances of remembering!
Study in groups and teach each other the material.
- When you study in groups you get the perspective of people who don’t think like you. This is important because you may see a problem one way but cannot figure it out without the help of someone else who sees the problem from a different angle.
- This also is effective in reducing the work load of a big study guide. If everyone divvies up the material and then teaches the group the material they had to cover, everyone is much more likely to retain the information. If you can teach it, you’re more than likely to have a great grasp on whatever it is you’re teaching.
Keep the material fresh by bouncing around on related topics.
- This tip wasn’t brought up too much by students, but I thought was very accurate from when I study. If you immerse yourself in a lot of material in the same subject, you start to get bored and tired of the same old thing. By bouncing around from different chapters, all the information is relevant, but stays fresh and new so you’ll learn more by staying engaged.
Apply the 45/15 rule when you’re studying
- According to the Pomodoro Technique, your brain can stay focused for about 45 minutes, with the first and last 20 minutes being the height of your learning capability. Once the 45 minutes is up, you tend to drift off and sometimes retain none of the information you were studying. So when you’ve studied for 45 minutes, surf the web or go for a walk outside for 15 minutes. This will keep your mind fresh. The 15 minute break is also an incentive to work for, so every time you sit down to study you know a nice break is coming soon.
Get a change of scenery when you study
- I always thought when studying you should wear the same kind of clothes you had on in class, and wear the same fragrances, and while those two things do have benefits (especially smell and taste, chewing gum in class and wear a specific fragrance too. Then, come test time do both of those again and watch your scores increase! It’s true!), studying in the same place every time may not help you as much.
- A New York Times study discredited the old time ways of studying in the same place when college students who studied a list of vocab words in two different rooms performed much better on a vocab test than students who studied the words twice in the same room. Researchers think that our brains make subtle associations between what we’re studying and the room’s background while we’re studying. Those unconscious associations help you remember what you’re learning. So the more you change it up, the more your mind has something new in the room to associate with the material you’re studying.
Space out review sessions
- In 1885, German scientist Hermann Ebbinghaus discovered the spacing effect. The spacing effect shows that humans remember facts and figures for long periods of time when you space out the time you study instead of cramming the day or night before an exam. He also discovered that we all have a “forgetting curve.” The rate at which we forget things depends on several factors, but the wonderful thing is it’s possible to figure out how long it will take to forget something. “Knowing how long it takes you to forget new information allows you to strategically plan your next review session for maximum performance on your exams.” – AoM
- SuperMemo is a fantastic program that can actually determine your forget curve. You create flashcards of information you want to memorize and work through them on your computer. SuperMemo then uses an algorithm to figure out when you should be presented with the material again after you review it. How amazing!