Stop studying! What you’re doing right now might be a waste of time. Read over your notes, review the class material, highlight things – repetition, repetition, repetition.
These study tactics have been drilled into you for years but the science is very clear, certain study techniques are more beneficial than others. So instead of you spending hours and hours trying to search for the right answer, I’ve written this article so you can develop a significant advantage over the rest of your class, your friends and your peers.
Here’s the next 3 methods to study effectively. I’ve covered the first 2 methods in Part 1 in this link.
3. Practice Tests
Master students are committed to effective study strategies. But shipwrecked students are committed to ineffective study strategies. If I asked you right now is reading again and again a good way to learn, is highlighting a good way to learn, or is Using keyword mnemonics a good way to learn?
While all of these they’re scientifically proven to be relatively low in effectiveness for long term learning at the other end of the scale things like practice tests. Spreading out your learning, they are scientifically proven to boost your performance.
In 2005 a guy called Reagan AR Gurum assessed 229 students using 11 different techniques of studying. He then matched their techniques with their final exam scores and many, but not all, of the techniques they used did achieve better exam scores. For example the number of hours they put in it did help, but things like starting studying early or reading material before and after class didn’t seem to be effective.
Reagan also found detriments to studying and one of them was listening to music. So what did he find that does work? Well, Reagan actually found the technique that strongly predicted your exam score and that was the number of times a student did practice tests. This one thing above all others had a significant impact on how well they did on their final exam. He even found that rewriting notes, reviewing highlighted material didn’t really impact the final exam score that much.
As mentioned, master students are committed to effective study strategies, but shipwrecked students are committed to ineffective study strategies.
4. Zeigarnik Effect/Pomodoro
The Zeigarnik effect is a concept in psychology that argues how you remember Uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than the ones that you complete. When we start a task and then interrupt it, it creates a task specific tension that can improve your cognitive function. When step away from your desk as you study, you’ll have that tiny little tension that you feel like you still need to finish reviewing that chapter.
It keeps the task at the top of your mind and this keeps your brain focused on it. This way you can easily access that information and remember it better. So how do you take advantage of this technique? You take frequent breaks during your deep work. The Zeigarnik effect suggests that students who take breaks during which they perform totally unrelated activities such as studying other subjects, reading a book, going on a three minute walk, playing the piano.
They remember material better than the students who go through longer study sessions without taking a break. A popular way that I’m sure most of you have heard of is the Pomodoro Technique where you work for 25 minutes, then you take a five-minute break, then you work for 25 minutes, then you take a five-minute break, etc etc.
5. Distributed Learning (Spaced Repetition)
Cramming is better than not studying in the short term, but is seven hours in one day better than one hour every day for a week? If you are given the same amount of time for study, would you be better off spreading it out?
Yes, space your studying out. This is known as distributed practice. Distributing learning over time either in a single study session or across study sessions. It benefits long-term retention more than massive cramming and learning back-to-back.
A group of scientists looked at 254 studies involving over 14,000 people, and overall students recalled more after spaced study than after cramming and massed study.
At the end of the day you have to do what works for you. Having family and friends around, replying to your messages on your smartphone, missing class, having the TV on. That’s not going to help you but doing practice tests, getting to sleep on time eating the proper nutrition, exercising, explaining what you’ve learned to others using these techniques are what’s going to help. So, you know what the techniques are to prepare effectively, you have to focus on the right things effectively and most of all, you have to take action every single day. As one of my Ex MOE tutor once told me, consistency is key.