in Study Tips May 9, 2016
You may already know these study tips, however unless you know WHY you should study this way, the advice is useless. Understanding one fundamental principle of human memory can help you avoid wasting time studying the wrong way.
Here it is: As humans we love to study in ways that feel good but are very poor at helping us learn. This practice can actually instill a false sense of overconfidence when we study.
Below are some important pieces of advice for anyone currently studying for an exam:
1. You’re forgetting to test your knowledgeOne of the best ways to study for an exam is to study the exam itself. You can spend hours revising the same content, which might make you think you know everything about a topic. However, recognising a question is to do with a particular topic is easy enough, the hard part is recalling the correct information!
Try to avoid reading for hours and hours without actually testing yourself with past papers and revision questions. Practice recalling information and not just recognising it.
2. Cramming isn’t as effective as you thinkAs much as it sounds a good idea to study as much as you can in as little time, it might actually be counterproductive for you. For example, if you try to study 1 hour per day for 5 days, you'll remember more than if you were to study for 5 hours on one day. However, students continue to cram despite knowing this.
The main reason for students cramming their studies is that it feels good. You feel more accomplished when you finish a long study session and believe you know everything. The problem with this is you’re trying to retain so much information that more than likely you are bound to forget the next day or within a few hours.
Spacing out your studies may not feel like you are achieving as much, but it results in you retaining more of the information you are studying.
3. You’re revising the wrong areasAnother problem students have when studying is studying areas they already know well. What this means for revision is that when you’re revising, you have to focus on the things you know least well, not the things you know best.
Unfortunately, it’s far more satisfying to revise what we know, since this triggers a rewarding sense of familiarity, rather than focus on our weaknesses. Revision shouldn’t be about assuring yourself of what you know, you should be deliberately studying areas you find more difficult in order to address this.
The above revision tips are nothing groundbreaking and can be implemented by anyone who is looking to revise for their exams. It is however good to understand why you should address these common revision mistakes to help you avoid wasting time when studying.