We’ve all been there before. It’s an ungodly hour in the night-slash-morning—Is that the sun rising outside your window? —And you’re online, browsing old Yahoo Answer threads with informative titles like “HELP??! Chemistry!” Perhaps this is not the best way to finishing your stoichiometry study set. But what better methods can there be?
To help you through finals despair and aid you in all endeavors desk-related, we’ve compiled some of our favorite study techniques. For a more efficient and pleasant study experience, you may want to try out these five techniques.
If you’re ever tempted to skip a night’s reading or “do it tomorrow,” (We all know how accurate that statement is…) remember that keeping your assignments in chunks makes them easier to accomplish.
It’s important to refresh your mind on the material you’re learning each day: just like workout routines aim for routine, you should try to exercise your mental muscle everyday. You’ll notice the progress in your memory and thank us for it. If you’re running short on time, it’s always the best principle to do at least part of the reading. A handy method is to read the first and last paragraph closely, and skim through the body paragraphs. For most textbook readings, this method is as effective as reading the entire section, and will save you time.
You may also employ a snack incentive for more in-depth reading. This method consists of placing a snack food of your choice at the end of each paragraph or section in the text. Start from the beginning, and continue reading while taking notes. The idea is that once you’ve reached the next section—and understood what you've finished reading—you reward yourself with a treat.
When used correctly, this method has been known to increase concentration and self-discipline. For those who use this method a bit less than perfectly, the method has been known to increase something else entirely. Another common pitfall is taking more time than expected to choose your snack food and mark the text—not that the author would have personal knowledge of this.
Try blocking out your time with the Pomodoro Technique, a time management method that increases your focus and efficiency. It consists of 25 minutes of hard work, followed by a 5 minute break. For those working on a longer project or more varied tasks, each third break is extended to 20 minutes long. Feeling skeptical? The Pomodoro technique has been featured in popular news sources since its creation in the late 1980s. Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal tried out this system, and noted that she not only felt more refreshed, but also halved the time when completing tasks like fact-checking. The best part is that you get all of this for free. While Pomodoro does sell patented timers, you can get started right away with this free stopwatch.
Last-Minute Exam Prep
Instead of staring at your textbook listlessly, take advantage of your muscle memory, and start writing lists down. The night before your exam, you should find time to write down the key points of what you’ve learned on an index card. Try challenging yourself to sum up the unit on one piece of paper only, as if you were allowed to bring the card with you on testing day. Alternatively, you can try changing your point of view: Pretend that you will be teaching the material you are studying the next day. This forces you to pay more attention to the material and the main points of what you need to know.
Looking for more practice problems? Here’s a neat trick that only requires Internet access and an open search bar. Type into the search “site:edu” followed by the subject you are studying for and the word “exam” or “practice.” This will lead you to problem sets or exams that schools have used in the past. Including the first search term ensures that all results are from an educational website and ensures that you find reliable problems related to the area you are studying.