Have you ever studied hard for a test only to blank out on exam day? Perhaps your study techniques could use some improvement! Tutor Doctor has some excellent tips on how to retain more information while studying.
1. Space out your study sessions. Try not to “cram” for your exams by forcing yourself to go through a super-long late-night study session. Not only will you not effectively retain the information, but you’ll end up spending more time to get lesser results. In the world of learning science, this method is known as massed practice and is nowhere near as effective as spaced practice, which involves what we like to call “chunking.” By studying for short periods spread out over time, you will absorb information more effectively while saving yourself a ton of stress!
2. Write down notes. Highlighting text is good, but actually writing something causes your brain to use a different set of mental processes. Writing down notes helps you to familiarize yourself with information as you acquire it in real-time, while also giving you the opportunity to later revisit what you’ve learned. We even recommend writing your notes by hand on a sheet of notebook paper – once you have all your notes jotted down, you can type up a big study guide on a computer. This is a great way to finalize your notes while also helping to further solidify your understanding of a subject.
3. Get a good night’s sleep. Your brain actually uses the time during restful sleep to encode short-term memories into long-term ones. You will notice that by studying in intervals and getting a healthy night’s sleep in between, each morning you should be able to wake up with the ability to recall most of what you learned the night before. If something seems confusing, quite literally – sleep on it! This is also another reason why late-night cramming sessions are not an ideal way to study.
4. Minimize distractions. Turn off televisions, electronic devices, and anything else that will distract you while studying. Although we sometimes feel like we can multitask just fine, we often don’t realize just how seriously distractions can divert our attention elsewhere. We recommend studying in a quiet area where you won’t be disturbed. Many people like to listen to classical music while studying, and you can make sure you have a small snack and drink ready just in case. Whatever you have to do, arrange your study sessions to where your only focus will be on the material itself.
5. Teach what you’ve learned to someone else. Explaining a concept or subject to another person is a great way to really break down your understanding of what you’re learning. Absorbing information for yourself is one thing, but being able to convey that to someone else requires a whole different set of mental processes and can help you refine your recall abilities. Try teaching your parents or a sibling about what you’re studying, and encourage them to ask questions afterwards! By outlining and explaining your research to an external source, you’ll be further helping yourself to encode and retain the knowledge you’ve acquired.