“Test.” Even the word itself is enough to make you cringe.
Maybe you imagine yourself looking at multiple choice answers and having no idea what you’re reading. Or you worry you’ll get back an exam you thought you did well on… only to see a big, fat “F.” Perhaps you struggle to read entire chapters the night before and falling asleep on top of your textbook.
To say that tests are stressful for many people is a huge understatement. Want to know a secret though? They don’t have to be.
The reason so many people dread tests is because they haven’t learned the right way to study. Maybe you just need a new way to learn.
Following these tips doesn’t guarantee you’ll never get another answer wrong, but it should make tests less stressful and increase your chances of retaining information for exams.
How should you study?
One of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to study with others.
Forming a study group can be a good way to compare information and make sure you didn’t miss anything. However, when it comes to learning and retaining facts and concepts, other people tend to be distracting as often as they are helpful.
In a Routine
Studying isn’t something that most people really want to do. Can you imagine asking a friend, “Hey, what do you want to do tonight?” and having them reply, “I think I want to study”?
Of course not. The same thing is true for many things in life though. Doing chores. Working out. Brushing your teeth.
Yet you do them. (Some probably better than others, but that’s for another day.) How do you stick with them? By creating a routine.
When you have a routine, it’s easier to keep up with the task because it’s built into your regular schedule. Moreover, routinely doing something increases both your tolerance for it and your ability to do it.
In other words, simply continuing to study makes you get better at it over time. You’ll concentrate better – and for longer.
Broken Up into Short Bursts
You probably have friends who humble-brag about how they stay up all night cramming for a test. With all due respect to them, this is a horrible way to study.
Even if they do well on the test itself, their likelihood of remembering any of that information even a few days later is low. Our brains just don’t work that way.
What should you do?
First, decide how long you need to study. Let’s say an hour each night.
Then, break it up into smaller blocks with something restorative in-between. For example, you could study for a half hour, break for a snack and a walk for 15 minutes, then come back for the final half hour.
This prevents you from overloading your brain and burning out. Instead of floundering for that last half hour and waiting for study time to end, you’ll be more refreshed and engaged.
You’ve heard the phrase “you are what you eat” before, right? Well, it may not be exactly the same, but what you eat certainly impacts how your body and mind respond.
If you eat junk food, you’ll feel sluggish. Even energy drinks will only give you a short burst of alertness before fizzling out.
Instead, go for foods with natural energy. Peanut butter. Bananas. Milk. Seafood. Your body – and mind – will thank you.
With a Pen
Or pencil. Or keyboard. Heck, even crayons or markers are fine.
What’s this tip about? Writing notes. Then rewriting them. Then, possibly, rewriting them again.
Something about the act of recording the information makes it easier for your brain to learn than just reading it. It’s kind of like your body is learning as well as your mind.
How exactly do you do this? Well, remember how we said studying with other people can hurt as much as it helps? In this situation, that doesn’t apply.
Here’s what you do. Study on your own first. Once you think you have a reasonable grasp on the concepts, offer to lead a study group.
Why? Because when you’re the one teaching – having to explain ideas and answers to others – you relearn the material. Pretty nice, huh?
Obviously, some of these tips will likely feel like they fit your personality better than others. The goal is to find what works to help you reach your maximum studying potential – and your maximum potential in the world.
Learn more about how our methods can help by getting in touch with us today.