Do you have a test on Monday? Are your palms sweating at the very thought of a test? Do you have that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach? Don’t panic. Brain research has shown the most effective ways we learn and process information. Apply these study skills and they will help you ace that test!
Tips How To Study #1 – Index Cards
The brain processes information in chewable bits. Get a stack of index cards. Lay out the information you need to learn in front of you. On each individual card write down one fact you need to know. This could be important dates, key individuals, basic concepts or vocabulary definitions vital for your test. Get everything you need to know in tiny pieces on separate index cards. Yes, there are going to be a lot of cards. That is okay. In the next step you are going to organize them but for now just get all of the needed information down on the index cards.
Done? Okay. Here is how you are going to maximize the way your brain absorbs information. Everyone sees the world in a slightly different way. Think about how you see the world. Say you had to study World War II. Giant topic. Let’s break it down to chronological order. Makes sense, right? Now think about how your brain might organize the information in just the first month of World War II. Do you categorize by nationality or by weapons used? Maybe you see the conflict through key military and diplomatic personalities involved in the war? Reflect on the way you see this information in your mind. The way you view the information is how you should organize your index cards.
Tips How To Study #2 – Study Group
Study Groups are a great way to motivate yourself to study for a test if you know you have procrastination tendencies. (And who doesn’t?) Start a study group to review information before your test. Dole out the information you need to know in chances to each person. Now that person is responsible for learning that chance of information inside and out. The next time the study group meets, each person has to teach their information to the group and answer any questions. If you know you have to teach this material, then there is high motivation to really master the material yourself. The internal pressure of belonging to a study group the whole year will keep you on track in a way that you might not be able to if left to your own devices.
Tips How To Study #3 – Know Your Limits
You have been there, cramming material the night before, not sure if anything is really getting inside your mind. Everything gets blurry and you realize that you have been on an imaginary tropical island the past 40 minutes. Time to get up! The brain can only focus on information for so long, about 45 minutes of concentration at a time. After 45 minutes you need to get some fresh oxygen to the brain. Take a short walk, do some sit ups, stretch your arms or some other kind of physical activity that will pump your blood around faster than sitting still in a chair. Sometimes you get the best ideas and insights while you focus your mind on something else.
Tips How To Study #4 – Use What You Already Know
The brain learns new information best by attaching the new material to already mastered information. For example, before you mastered the menu at Starbucks you had to learn what basic coffee tasted like. Once you knew that, then you could add cream, milk, soy milk and discovered what you liked best. Then you learned what sweetener you wanted to add, but you had to learn about raw sugar, honey, artificial sweeteners, not to mention the whole world of flavored syrups. So, your brain mastered all of that information by adding bits at a time, adding the unfamiliar to the familiar