Studying at the last minute for tests or exams can be very stressful. To avoid that stress, you need to study as you go along. It must be spread out over the semester. Here are some ideas to help to make your study time stress free.
- Use all of your senses for learning if you want to remember what you are studying. We all have our favorite methods of learning. According to IQ matrix, (http://blog.iqmatrix.com/mind-map/advanced-multi-sensory-study-skills-mind-map), if you incorporate all of them – reading, listening, writing, seeing, speaking, and doing, you may remember up to 90% of what you are studying. So, read the notes, listen to the lecture, watch a video of the knowledge in action, say it out loud to yourself or tell someone else, and use the information in some way.
- One study technique that is very helpful for learning material of any kind is to teach it to someone else. This is one of the advantages to participating in study groups. If someone does not understand the information and you do, then you can explain it to them and thus achieve a review of the information for yourself at the same time. If you happen to make an error on some point, someone else in the group will explain that to you. This makes study groups helpful for everyone. A study group can be set up in an online class as an asynchronous discussion board group or as a synchronous chat room group.
- Use mnemonics to memorize facts. Different types of mnemonics work better for different types of materials so pick the one that works best for your facts. Also you probably have a certain type of mnemonic that works well for you, so use that one. If not, learn a couple of techniques since the time spent learning it will be worth it. Mnemonic techniques work much better than rote memorization.
- Make yourself notes, audio recordings, flash cards or any other materials that will help you review the facts and other information that you need to learn. Everyone has their favorite ways of studying that work well for them. Make use of those. Whatever helps you is the best technique to use. Do not let someone else – student or instructor – convince you that you should study the way they suggest. It does not hurt to try out different methods, but make sure that it really is helpful for you before adopting it as a regular way to study.
- Be sure to review your notes as soon as possible after you listen to or read the class lecture and/or notes. The longer you wait the more likely you will have to start learning the material over again. The best way to learn information for the long term is to review it frequently at the beginning and then less often over time. These should be short reviews. You do not need to sit and review for an hour at a time. Five to twenty minutes is best.
- Many people believe that they should always study in the same place. If that works well for you, then do it. However, the most recent brain research suggests that if you study in different places, you will remember more. It seems that if you study in a park, for instance, you may remember more of that information about the Civil War by recalling that image of the children playing ball while you were studying it. You may want to give this a try to see if it works for you.
These are five techniques that you can use to study that will not cause you stress by following them and may even prevent some stress before an exam since you will have already completed most of the review of the materials.