At this point in your life, you may be of the belief that you know all there is to know about studying. Or, alternatively, you may feel that you have gone through your entire life taking exams and standardized tests and pop quizzes and you still don’t really know if you’re doing it the right way.Studying is weird like that!
But, now that we are in the dead of summer, and you haven’t actually had a need to study in a while, I am going to guess that your studying skills are a little…rusty. At best. (I mean, it is possible that you’re at an engineering camp, or you’re taking college courses or plain old summer school. This doesn’t concern you!!)
And, since school will be here sooner than you know it (sorry, someone had to say it), you might be getting a little anxious about your studying habits for next semester. This is where I come in. Or, technically, this is where the peer-approved studies come in. There are a bunch of (scientific) studies relating to the act of (academic) studying that, if you study them well (har har) could potentially help you get all A’s this year:
Use Active RecallActive recall is a method of studying developed in 2009 at the Washington University of St. Louis. Its basic premise is that reading and re-reading textbooks isn't actually effective for learning material, so, instead, you should teach it to yourself by closing the book at certain intervals and reciting the material to yourself. This way, you're exercising your brain in a way that's more active than simply reading the text, which, in turn, will help you recall it better. Image source: iStock
Take Notes By Hand, Not On Your LaptopWhile writing things down by hand can be a hassle, it's actually better in the long run for studying. A joint study done by researchers at Princeton and UCLA found that students who write down their notes by hand retain more information than students who take notes by typing. This is because expending a little more effort during the initial learning process--AKA the extra effort from writing notes rather than typing them--actually helps synthesize information later on. Image source: iStock
Try Interval StudyingFeeling short on time? Try interval studying. This is a method of studying that involves studying a little bit after each lecture rather than trying to cram before an exam, which studies have shown to be pretty ineffective. This does require a little more effort on each individual day, but it'll make the day before an exam significantly easier, because you'll already have a good base for the information in your mind. Image source: iStock
Don't MultitaskIf you're into multitasking--you know, texting, answering emails, and writing a term paper at the same time--this might come as a bit of a challenge. But, according to a study done at University of Connecticut in 2015, all multitasking does is make the time it takes to complete an assignment longer and the grades you get for said assignment significantly lower. So. Don't do it! Give yourself a certain amount of time to focus solely on the task at hand--say, thirty minutes to an hour--and try to stick to it. Image source: iStock
Listen To MusicClassical music, that is. According to psychologists at the University of Southern California, listening to classical music while studying can increase motivation. It has also been shown to lessen anxiety and make sleeping easier, which is pretty helpful if you find that you suffer from testing anxiety and loss of sleep during the school year. Image source: iStock
Take BreaksWhile it's important to stay focused, you also can't expect to hole up with your books for a solid day without taking any personal time. Research has shown that taking a quick break every hour or so can help boost energy and improve memory in the long run. The key is not to turn a short break into a break for the rest of the day, but if you make sure to limit yourself to about fifteen minutes of relaxation, you should be fine. Image source: iStock
Get Some ExerciseExercising might not seem like a super effective studying technique--given that doing it takes time away from studying--but some studies have shown that exercising increases dopamine in the brain, which helps improve your learning and attention. So, if you can, try to exercise for about 20-30 minutes a day. It doesn't have to be anything big--walking your dog around the block totally works!--but you might find that it gives you the edge you need to succeed this year. Image source: iStock
Were you surprised by any of these studies? Which ones? Let us know in the comments!