Tips On Studying For Midterms and Finals

Caption: As I was following the 45/15 rule the other morning before lecture (explained below), I came across this familiar view looking out at Dad’s Pond behind Barsema Hall. What a cool sight to see. Posted on my Instagram @louie_zmich. Also be sure to follow @NIUBusiness on Instagram!

Editors Note: With this collegiate semester almost over (I know, it’s crazy), we seem to realize that getting to the half way point sometimes isn’t the hardest challenge. All the material goes in your brain and you recall it when you need it, but now midterms are here and you have forgotten everything you’ve learned! Fortunately I have done some research and put together some simple tips to get you back on track so you can ace your midterms and finals. These are tips compiled from students themselves and some studies done on other college campuses, so let’s dive in! As always, if you like what you read, feel free to comment on this post and follow me on Facebook & Titter @LOUIEZMICH and Instagram @louie_zmich. Enjoy!

First off, I want to say that by you following these tips it should help you in multiple ways. To begin with, you’re simply going to retain more information. As you become better at studying, you are going to actually learn the material and not just memorize it. Second, you will also begin to develop good habits so cramming won’t be the worst of your worries. These both may seem like a long shot because cramming and memorizing can be the normality sometimes, but as you start to follow some of these rules ahead of time, you will  notice improvement without having that be your initial intention. With that being said, let’s take a look at what this article is going to contain:

  1. Tips from students and an explanation for those tips
  2. Tips from various research, along with an explanation for each tip  and a all to action, how you can starts right away to ace those exams

As we start off, this is interesting to say that all of these student tips are from students who are in the business school right now at NIU and are taking classes here just like you, so if they can achieve excellence, so can you!

Making flashcards early, and continuing 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 lets you make visual progress 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.

  • This was a tip that multiple people told me, many also paired up this tip 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 because if you can teach it, you’re more than likely to have a great grasp on what ever 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 board and tired of the same old thing. By bouncing around from different chapters, all the information is relevant, but in the same token stays fresh and new so you’ll learn more by staying engaged.

Now that we have the student’s point of view, I think it’s time to look at my top three researched topics that the experts say will boost your learning capacity and increase your test scores!
Apply the 45/15 rule when you’re studying

  1. 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. Once the 45 minutes is up, surf the web or go for a walk outside for fifteen minutes. This will keep your mind fresh and give you an incentive to work for, every time you sit down to study you’ll know a nice break is coming soon.

Get a change of scenery when you study

  1. 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.
  2. A New York Times study indicated that the old time ways of studying in the same place have been kicked 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 what’s in the 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 that certain formula with.

Space out review sessions

  1. 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
  2. SuperMemo is a fantastic program that can actually find what your forget curve is. 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!

Studying doesn’t have to be something that is always associated with stress and anxiety. Studying can be satisfying and efficient, everyone knows that feeling of leaving an exam and knowing you’ve killed it. At this point there isn’t anyone in this college that likes to fail, we all want to succeed so why not take the steps to become successful and ultimately save you a ton of time in reality.

I hope this has been of some help to you, and if you have any study tips that I have missed or would like to share, please leave a comment or contact me directly and I will share it on the “study tips” link on the blog!

Thank you everyone, and don’t forget to be awesome,

Louie

 

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