I have one week of school left, and it happens to be exam week. I’m kept sane only by watching Parks and Rec on repeat. Season 6 here we go. (If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I’m consuming like, 5 episodes a day.) Anyways, whether you’re taking finals, tests, or done with school, here are some 5 useful tips to ace your exam and just generally develop better studying habits. Let me just say that I am not a perfect student, and I certainly can’t promise my studying habits are the best. But these are all tips that I’ve found really useful and beneficial, so I’m here just to share them with you. Will you ace your exam? Maybe, maybe not. But will you have put in the effort to do your best? Yes, and truly I believe that’s all that matters.
1.Study at your favorite location
One of the top tips I’ve seen and heard from other people is to study somewhere with no distractions, such as a library or a quiet room. While that is true, I’m also a believer in studying at places and locations that you love. To me, if I go somewhere that I enjoy spending time at, it’ll make the fact of studying less dull and turn it into an enjoyable past time. Going somewhere you like also makes you less inclined to leave as soon as possible, and you can actually enjoy being there while you look over your notes and books. My equation for anything related to success is positive thinking + positive feelings = positive results. It’s all about the mindset, really. Quiet libraries may be quiet and not distracting, but they’re also dull! Go somewhere you’d actually want to spend time at.
2.Focus on the key points
This tip is more on the actually studying part. I don’t know about you, but I love taking a bunch of notes. There’s something extremely satisfying about filling papers up with writing, bullet points, and highlighting. But most of the time only 50% of those notes are actually important points I need to know. That’s the same for studying. Examine your notes and books and find the main ideas and key points that you need to focus on. Unless your teacher has specifically said so, there’s no use for memorizing all the numbers and percentages found scattered in the text–it usually isn’t tested because most of the time those numbers aren’t important. Instead, take a highlighter or pen and circle out the main ideas. Think to yourself- “What is this topic about?” And then spend your time studying that! You’ll save time and brain juice. 😛
3.Don’t just memorize- know it!
I struggle with this most of the time when I’m studying. I have a habit of just memorizing all the facts on the power point slides or the study guide. While that may seem like the safest option, it really isn’t beneficial long term. For example, you could be taking the test days later and have a memory slip. Was the answer 33% or 34%? Wait, do anti-cyclones spin clockwise or counterclockwise? And get this- while you may have answered everything on that test, if the same questions come back months later on the final, you would have forgotten it. That’s why it’s important to really understand the topic instead of memorizing. If you truly understand everything, you’ll remember it long term and no matter how the question changes, you’ll know how to answer it. But how do you understand the topic instead of memorizing? Well, a great way is to teach the lesson to someone like a friend or a parent! My best friend does this, and she get’s 100’s on every single test. Although that’s not guaranteed (she’s just crazy smart), it’s scientifically proven that teaching material to someone else helps you learn it the best as well. Quizzing people also works! Another way is to draw diagrams and illustrations. Like when studying the water cycle, put all your notes away and take out paper and a pencil and actually draw the cycle with all the clouds and arrows. You can color it too.
4.Study with friends
I love studying with friends because it makes the process less boring and you get a chance to quiz someone and get quizzed yourself! If you don’t have time to get together, group call or text. I love video chatting and group texting, and my friends and I take turns asking questions. This is also very useful because if you need something clarified or something is confusing, you can get help and someone who knows the subject well and explain it to you. The only flaw in this is getting distracted with your friends and having the “quiet study session” turn into a party with pillow fighting and giggling. Yes, it happens very often.
5.Maintain a peaceful mindset
This last tip goes with the first tip, but I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping a peaceful and quiet mindset. I know how easy it is to stress out before a huge test or exam, especially if there’s so much material and it’s piled up the night before. But over the years I’ve learned that no matter how much material there is to study, nothing will get done with a buzzing and hyperventilating mind. Your brain absorbs much more when it’s at rest and there are no excess emotions. If you find yourself cramming too many things at once, take a break. Put away your notes and study materials and do something completely unrelated to studying. I like to work out, like running laps around the neighborhood. If you really want to clear your mindset, go on a trip if you have the time. Once when I was on the verge of breaking down from stress, my family and I drove a few hours away from the city and we went hiking. Then when I got back, I got to clear my head, sit down, and really concentrate on studying. Some other ideas are cooking, dancing, eating, and watching Parks and Recreation.
These are my 5 tips for studying, but I have lots more! If this post helps you, tell me if you guys want the rest of my tips. I also have a post planned for my favorite brain powering snacks. Also let me know if you guys want to see that!
Lots of love, and good luck on your exams!