The steady trickle of tests is turning into exams now. Big ones that count for large percentages of your module and semester grades. But it’s the same old story when it comes to studying. Don’t get bogged down, get creative with these clever study tips that will see you through to your winter vacation with peace of mind.
Smart Study Tip 1 – Reward yourself for good behaviour.
While good marks and passing are a great reward, sometimes you need something more immediate to keep you going. “Sometimes, if I finish a chapter of a textbook I’m studying from, I’ll reward myself with a piece of chocolate or an improv dance session,” says Aylin Erman. “It keeps things exciting and keeps me motivated.”
Why it works: Colleen Roberts, a tutor at Kumon Learning Center, says that rewards are a great way to keep you going. The idea of indulging after a job well done works for all ages. At Kumon, kids get “money” to spend on prizes if they answer practice questions correctly. And few would argue that chocolate is a pretty sweet reward.
Smart Study Tip 2 – Get hypnotized.
Most people think of hypnosis as a form of entertainment — most hypnosis performances involve making people moo like a cow or act out a scenario for an audience. But hypnosis can actually help boost your GPA.
Why it works: Eileen Strong, a teacher and public speaker trained in clinical-therapeutic hypnosis, explains the science behind it all. Put simply, hypnosis helps your conscious and subconscious mind work together, making it possible to retain information up to six times faster. To get similar effects when you’re short on time, Strong suggests repeating this phrase to yourself: “I choose to be in control. Remembering what I studied is okay with me.” This is essentially a practice of positive affirmation. Often, believing you’re going to ace a test is all it takes.
Smart Study Tip 3 – Type up your notes.
An entire notebook full of written notes is overwhelming. A little simplifying can go a long way. “I’ll type all of my notes into one long outline, and print it out for a crunch-time condensed reading,” says Kathleen Corlett. “Typing it all together refreshes my memory on earlier lectures and it’s great to have everything I need to know stapled together in a single packet.”
Why it works: It seems like a waste of time to type notes you already have, but repetition is great for memorization. The time you spend typing them actually counts as studying, because you absorb information without even realizing it.
Smart Study Tip 4 – Take breaks.
Seriously. A lot of breaks. Every 25 minutes, walk away from the material for 3-5 minutes. Grab a snack, chat with a roommate, or walk around the dorms. Note that texting and Facebook aren’t included because they’re more about distractions than relaxing breaks. Besides, who spends only five minutes at a time on Facebook?
Why it works: “The number one mistake that students make is studying for several hours in a row,” says Strong. A professor actually tested this 25-minute technique on his students and saw grades improve almost instantly. “It’s like wringing out a sponge,” says Strong. “You know how much water you can pick up with a soaked sponge versus a slightly damp sponge?”
Smart Study Tip 5 – Laugh a little.
Roberts says that creating funny acronyms is the perfect way to jog her memory during a test. “Sometimes, if it’s a really difficult fact, I’ll read it with a funny emphasis,” she says. “Or I’ll remember that I read it during Seinfeld and be like ‘oh the election of 1896? Seinfeld.”
Why it works: With so much stress attached to getting good marks, we often walk into testing situations feeling pretty unhappy. By connecting the material to something positive or funny, you have a better chance of relaxing and remembering all those facts and figures.