Final exams are about to get started and for many of you the main priority is to achieve good results. But how? Studying hard is half the job but to study effectively is the real key to successful learning. Everybody is different and just like your taste in music is different to that of others, the way you study is different.
Just like exercising and healthy eating, studying is a habit. There are studies that show breaking a habit can take up to 21 days but forming one only takes 7 days of doing the activity over and over again. For habitual studying to be effective you need to stick to a time and day that you will be studying and study for at least 2 – 3 hours. This act is habit forming and once you’re in the habit, studying becomes second nature and much easier as a result.
Before you start running for the hills at the sight of the world testing, read on. Testing is the best way of knowing how well you know your work and how well you grasped the material, so why not do this for yourself? Take some time to get past papers from the Department of Basic Education (don’t forget the memorandums) and write the exam. Try to do the exam in the time limit set for the paper and mark it at the end. This will help you pinpoint your problem areas as well as prepare you for the way the questions will be asked and how best to answer them.
Is your attention span very short? Do you find your mind drifting after staring at the pages of your revision? Then you may want to try applying disturbed practice to your study routine. The idea behind disturbed practice is that you take the time you’ve studied and half it, that becomes your break so for example, if you study for an hour you would take a break of 30 minutes. For this to be effective though you need to do many sessions a day. Interestingly, it has been discovered that persons that employ this technique are able to concentrate for longer periods of time after using the disturbed practice technique.
Now when we say teaching we don’t mean going to school with a full curriculum and take Ms. Applebaum’s job. Reciting the work you are revising out loud can be a highly effective method of studying. We aren’t saying just read from the book or course material because that won’t work too well. What you need to do is read through the work until you have a very good understanding of the material. Once you’ve done that try and teach the work as if you were a teacher. This method engages different areas of your brain making the learning process more effective. Try using your siblings, your parents, or anything that will sit still long enough to listen to you.
DISCLAIMER: THIS METHOD WILL NOT WORK IF YOU HAVE NOT STUDIED!
If you didn’t know: you have two types of memory, short and long term. Long term memory is like your email account. You can search through old emails and access them at any time. Short term memory is like a piece of scrap paper, it’s good for remembering a name at a party and putting a number into your phone but it can easily get lost or forgotten.
All the methods we’ve listed so far engage your long term memory. Cramming however only engages the short term memory. So why are we even telling you this? If you’ve studied using any of the methods we’ve already listed cramming can be like a piece of scrap paper you find that reminds you of something. Short term memory can act as a way of recalling old memories which can be extremely useful before an exam.
These are just a few of the methods you can use to get that knowledge to stick in your brain. Good luck for the exams, go out there and rock them!
Kay Cheytanov, MD of 3RC, gives tip on how to study for exams