It’s time to get studying
12 September 2015, 10:00
Here are some sound study tips to help you keep all that information in your head:
Study just before bedtime
Bedtime stories are for wimps. Instead of reading The Hunger Games, try studying for a few minutes right before hitting the pillows.
During sleep, the brain strengthens new memories, so there’s a good chance you will remember whatever you review right before dozing off.
Space it out
A relatively new learning technique called “spaced repetition” involves breaking up information into small chunks and reviewing it consistently over a long period of time.
So don’t try to memorise the entire periodic table in one sitting.
Instead, learn a few rows every day and review each lesson before starting anything new.
Move your butt
Research suggests that studying the same stuff in a different place every day will make you less likely to forget that information.
This is because every time you move around (from the library to the coffee shop, or the coffee shop to the toilet seat), you force your brain to form new associations with the same material so that it becomes a stronger memory.
Switch it up
Don’t stick to one topic. Instead, study a bunch of different material in one sitting. This technique will help prepare you to use the right strategy for finding the solution to a problem.
For example, doing a bunch of division problems in a row means that every time you approach a problem, you know it will require some division.
But doing a series of problems that require multiplication, division, or addition means you will have to stop and think about which strategy is best.
Put yourself to the test
Quizzing yourself may be one of the best ways to prepare for the real deal. And don’t worry about breaking a sweat while trying to remember something.
The harder it is to remember a piece of information in practice mode, the more likely you are to remember it in the future.
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Write it out
Put those Grade 3 writing lessons to good use. Research suggests people store information more securely when they write it out by hand than when they type it.
Start by recopying the most important notes from the semester on to a new sheet of paper.
Reading information out loud means mentally storing it in two ways: seeing it and hearing it.
But we can’t guarantee you won’t get thrown out of the library for this.
Come together (right now)
Group work doesn’t fly with everyone, but for those who benefit from a little team effort, a study group is the way to go.
Pick a few studious friends and get together every few days to review the material. Put one person in charge of delegating tasks and keeping the group on target with its goals.
A healthy biscuit, a walk around the block, five minutes of tweet time; whatever floats your boat.
Knowing there’s a little reward waiting for you at the end of a few pages makes it easier to beat procrastination while slogging through a year’s worth of notes.
Make something caffeine-filled. There’s a lot of research suggesting coffee (and tea) will keep you alert, especially when nothing seems more exciting than the shiny library floor.
Take time out
Taking time to plan is one of the most important skills a student can have. Don’t just start the week with the vague goal of studying for a history exam – break up that goal into smaller tasks.
Pencil it in on the calendar like a regular class. For example, allot every day from 1pm to 3pm to review a year’s worth of info.
Gimme a break
The KitKat slogan says it, and so does science. Taking regular breaks can boost productivity and improve your ability to focus on a single task. For a real productivity boost, step away from the screen and break a sweat during a midday gym session.
Work it out.
Get stronger and brainier at the same time. Research has found that just half an hour of aerobic exercises can improve your brain’s processing speed and other important cognitive abilities.
Jog a few laps around the block and see if you don’t come back with a few more IQ points.
Daa-aance to the music
As anyone who’s ever relied on Rihanna to make it through an all-night study session knows, music can help beat stress.
And while everyone’s got a different tune preference, classical music in particular has been shown to reduce anxiety and tension. Give those biology notes a soundtrack and feel some of the stress slide away.
Unfriend the internet
If a computer is necessary for studying, try an app that blocks the internet for a short period of time and see how much more you can get done
Get some sleep
When there’s a textbook full of equations to memorise, it can be tempting to stay up all night committing them to memory (or trying to).
But all-nighters rarely lead to an automatic A. In fact, they’ve been linked to impaired cognitive performance and a greater sensitivity to stress.
In the days leading up to a big exam, aim toget seven to nine hours sleep a night so sleep deprivation doesn’t undo all the hard work you’ve put in.
Learn what works
Some people are early birds, some are night owls, some prefer to study with a pal, others need complete and total silence.
Experiment to find out what’s most effective for you and stick to it.
– Compiled by Yvonne Grimbeek
- City Press