How to study effectively for exams is an art and a science. While some people are naturally good at retaining information, others use devices and tricks to help them to ace the test every time.
It doesn’t have to be so difficult and painful.
By learning some quick tips on how to study effectively for exams, you can dramatically transform the way you study and be poised to score high every time and ace your tests.
20 ways to Study Effectively for Exams:
To study effectively for exams starts with right attitude, and right attitude make a way to an opportunity. If you want to learn how to study effectively and more efficiently, then these 20 tips and tricks will help you to study effectively for exams and also will show you how to study for a test effectively too.
1. Study Before Bed
Studying before bed can help you retain information longer, as your brain stores new memories and transfers them to long-term storage during sleep. Studies have shown that students who tackle their toughest subjects just before bed have better memory retention, recall and comprehension than those that don’t. There are several schools of thought on why this is the case, but the simplest answer is that the information doesn’t get drowned out by new data during the day. When you study in the morning, you have the entire day of distractions to erase your memories. Studying at night gives your brain a single focus before bed, helping you to hang on to the material longer.
2. Break it Into Chunks
To remember complex information, it helps to break it into smaller, more easy to remember pieces and master those before moving on to the next piece. Think about learning the multiplication tables. Chances are you learned the ones, then the twos, then the threes and so on and so forth. This helped you to solidify one set before moving on to the next.
Trying to learn the periodic table of elements? Start with one set and repeat them every morning for a week. Then move on to the next and the next, adding on to what you have learned. This method is effective because there is a limit to how much the brain can learn at one time, and by breaking up the information, you can learn more easily.
3. Use a Mnemonic Device
Remember PEMDAS (Please Forgive My Dear Aunt Sally), EGBDF (Every Good Bird Does Fly) and MVEMJSUN (My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles)? These easy to remember acronyms help us to remember the order of operations, music scales and planets. When studying, create your own mnemonic devices or use some common ones to help you remember complex information. There are several types of mnemonics that you can use to help you retain the information.
4. Connection Mnemonics
This is the type of memory aid that connects something you already know to something you don’t. You want to remember the name of the person who shot Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr. So you say, Alexander Hamilton was shot by Apple Butter, or Angry Boy, or something similar to help you remember his initials. This is also a good way to remember names. You’re introduced to Bill, so you remember him as “Buffalo Bill” your favorite sports team.
5. Musical Mnemonics
Quick, recite the alphabet. Did you sing it? The ABC Song is a musical mnemonic. Setting your study information to song will help you to remember it and cement it in your mind. There are some great videos online that set complex concepts to music, so try using those the next time you need to memorize part of a sonnet, the names of countries or some other complex set of data for a test.
6. Name Mnemonics
Do you know Roy G. Biv? If not, then you must not know the colors of the rainbow. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. You can create your own funny names to help you remember lists that are otherwise tricky to retain.
7. Expression Mnemonics
Want to remember Henry’s Law in physics? Henry’s Law: The solubility of a gas increases with pressure. To remember good old Hank, remember the bubbles in the shaken Coke you drank. Are you struggling to remember the seven coordinating conjunctions?
For, An, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So—FANBOYS.
8. Spelling Mnemonics
How do you spell receive? If you thought, “I before e, except after c, or when sounding like A, as in neighbor or weigh,” you’re not alone. These devices help us to remember grammar concepts that can trip us up. There’s a “rat” in congratulations, just remember to give him your well wishes. A rat in the house may eat the ice cream is the perfect way to remember how to spell “arithmetic.” If there is a word that usually stumps you, coming up with your own spelling mnemonic is a simple way to get it right every time.
9. Write Out Your Notes
Studies have shown that people retain more information when they write things down. Take a few moments to hand write your notes. When it is time to recall the information, you will picture your notes in your mind, giving you a visual reminder of what you need to know. It is important to note, however, that taking notes on a computer or laptop doesn’t pack the same punch when it comes to memory.
Writing out what a speaker is saying or the information in a text is more challenging than simply typing. This is why your brain retains it. It has to hear or read the information, translate it, then write it down, which is more complex than simply transcribing by typing. So you’re more likely to remember your work if you hand write it.
Some students get creative with their note-taking, color coding everything with highlighters and markers, making charts and graphs and using flags to mark important passages. The key here is to organize your notes in a way that you can understand them later. Draw diagrams, underline passages, highlight, circle—whatever you have to do to help you to remember what you need to know.
10. Take the Test
Do you have the test questions? Put your notes away, pull out the questions and take the test beforehand. By writing out the questions, then answering them, you can see where you need more practice. In addition, you’ll retain more information by writing the questions and answers down, mimicking the actual experience of taking the test. It can also help to have someone quiz you on the material. Either way, practicing taking the test beforehand is a good way to see what you have mastered and what you need to work on a bit more.
If you have an old copy of the test, use it to practice for the upcoming exam. In the case of standardized tests like the SAT, LSAT and GRE, you can find practice tests online to help you. It also helps to take the practice test in the same format as the actual test. If you will be testing online, practice using an online test so you get a feel of how you will perform.
11. Watch a Video
Do you have a favorite movie that you can recite line by line? Visual learners will find watching a video on the subject to be a good way to capture the information and retain it for the test. There are video lessons on almost every subject imaginable, so head over to your favorite video sharing site and find your study topics there. Videos combine visual learning with music to cement the ideas in your head and help you to remember them.
12. Speak Your Notes Out Loud
Okay, here me out on this one. Talking out loud to yourself may seem like a radical idea, but it works. There is science backing this one up. Speaking and reading out loud will help you to remember what you’re reading better and lead to better recall later. Have you ever had a conversation with someone and you can remember the exact conversation in their voice? The dual action of both speaking aloud and hearing yourself speak helps you to remember better. The brain has to translate what you’re reading into speech, helping you to recall it later. This is called the “production effect,” and has been studied by psychologists who wish to better understand this phenomenon.
13. Get Creative
Study smart by using your talents and hobbies to help you to remember. Are you a good cook? Studying for a history exam? Consider baking a dish that was popular at the time to help you to remember key facts about that time period. “The early settlers had to travel to Jamestown in 1617 to get the flour to make the bread…” Are you an artist? Draw a diagram of a heart, color it and label it to remember it better. Drawing and creating visual aids can also help you to understand complex concepts like cell division, erosion and geography. Are you a writer? Write an historical fan fiction story to prepare for your history exam, or write a science fiction story that discusses the nebulas and black holes that you have to explain on the test. Whatever your talent is, use it to help you to study for your big exam.
14. Block Out Distractions
When you get into a creative flow, a distraction can throw you off your game and put you hours behind schedule when it comes to studying. Go to a place where you will be uninterrupted when you prepare to study. If your phone is a distraction, use apps that will stop incoming messages and texts while you work. Pets, siblings, parents and friends can all interrupt you from your studies, so do your best to ensure that you are in a place that is conducive to focus. If you are an early bird, start studying before dawn when the house is quiet and there will be no interruptions. A late owl? Study smart by waiting until everyone has gone to bed before you crack open the books.
15. Take a Break
While it may seem like a good idea to go on a study marathon, it is important that you take breaks to give your brain a chance to regroup and recover. Cramming rarely works, so try to tackle your studies in manageable chunks. One of our favorite techniques for breaking up study time is to use the Pomodoro™ method. (Fun fact: Pomodoro is the Italian word for “tomato,” and the creator of this technique used a tomato shaped timer to time his breaks, hence the name)
16. The Pomodoro Technique Steps
1. Identify the task(In this case, pick one subject to focus on)
2. Set a timer for 25 minutes
3. Work diligently without interruption until the timer sounds
4. Take a 5 minute break
5. Repeat steps two and three
6. Take a 5 minute break
7. Repeat step two and three
8. Take a 20 minute break
The Pomodoro technique works because it allows you to work in short bursts, with brain breaks in between. Taking short breaks gives you a chance to recharge and let the information sink in before moving on to another topic.
17. Get Some Exercise
Gearing up to study for the big test? Take a walk. Studies have shown that exercises engages the brain, making it more likely that you will learn new concepts and retain old ones. Exercise stimulates the formation of new brain cells, and this can help you get smarter so you can practice smart studying. Don’t worry, you don’t need to spend an hour lifting weights in the gym to make exercise work for you. A simple walk around the block or anything that gets your heart rate going is enough to do the trick.
18. Join a Study Group
Depending on your personality, studying with others can be one of the best ways to study. Your study group members may have a better grasp of the subject matter and can help you understand the content better. In addition, they can quiz you and prep you for the test. Finally, explaining a concept to another person helps to cement it in the brain, so by helping them, you will also be helping yourself.
This study tip is a bit controversial because some will argue that adding other people to the mix only hinders your ability to concentrate. Not all study groups are created equal. If your study group is a bunch of your friends goofing off and distracting everyone, it will simply make it harder for you to learn and remember the information. Be sure to choose a study group that is focused on the task at hand and won’t be an additional distraction while you’re studying.
Another benefit of a study group is that you can motivate each other and spur one another on to study. Here are motivational quotes that you can use to motivate yourself.
19. Eat a Healthy Snack
It’s hard to concentrate on an empty stomach, so be sure to stock up on healthy snacks to fuel your study session. Avoid snacks that are high in sugar, as they can cause you to feel tired and sluggish. Go for brain food like nuts, dried fruit, air popped popcorn, smoothies, veggies and hummus, cheese and frozen grapes. Avoid candy, fried potato chips, ice cream and high calorie snacks.
20. Get a Change of Scenery
Sometimes the brain gets a little bored and wants a little variety to function at its peak. This is where a change of scenery can do you a world of good. Take your laptop to the park and spread out a blanket for an afternoon picnic/study session. Do you like a lot of background noise when you study? Find the nearest coffee shop and set up your work station there. Study in the kitchen, on the back porch, in the attic—wherever you can best engage your brain.
Your brain is a powerful organ and it will work to your advantage if you take the right steps to train it. Thinking about how to study effectively, how to learn faster and cram more information into your overloaded brain can cause you to get stressed out, which will hamper the learning process.
Just relax and understand that smart studying requires you to take a realistic look at how much you can learn at a time and focus on that. Cramming doesn’t work, so trying to shove it all in at once with just cause you to burn out. Instead, give yourself breaks to have a cup of tea, a short nap, a walk around the block or a few minutes to listen to your favorite tunes while you study.
Tips for Improving Your Concentration To Study more effectively
1. How to Learn Faster
There are times when you just need to learn a lot of information in a short period of time. In these cases, there are a few tips that will help you. First, learn to skim your reading passages instead of reading every word. In some textbooks, the key terms are highlighted or written in bold or italics. Scan for these terms and read the passages before or after these terms. This is likely what you need to study.
For every new term you learn, create a real-world example that you can relate to. This will help you to remember the information. If you are studying psychology, for example, and the passage is discussing personality disorders, think of someone you may know who exhibits those characteristics. This will help you for the exam.
Space out your learning over a longer period in order to retain it better. This means that instead of embarking on one long marathon study session, engage in three or four study sessions leading up to the test. This will give your brain a break between sessions and help you to learn better.
Another way to learn in a hurry is to teach yourself the same concept in multiple formats. If you are reading a passage from a text, watch a video on it, listen to a song about it, draw a picture of it and play a game related to it. All of these things will solidify the topic in your mind and make it easier to remember.
You could also consider getting a private tutor to answer any queries you have. It will save many hours of your time figuring out how to solve questions.
2. How to Study Effectively for Exams
Most students complain that distractions keep them from getting the most out of their studies, preventing them from performing well on exams. While there are ways to decrease distractions, it is almost impossible to eliminate them altogether. Inevitably someone is going to knock on your door to ask for a favor, someone may stop to chat with you while you’re at the coffee shop working or a friend may stop by for a visit while you’re practicing your math games.
The key is dealing with distractions and not letting them interrupt your flow altogether.
3. Creating a Study Environment
Find a place to study where you feel most comfortable. Make sure it is stocked with everything you need—pens, paper, notebooks, laptop, textbooks, snacks—so you don’t need to keep stopping to grab supplies. Control the noise levels in this area. If possible, choose an area away from the main area of the house where noise is likely to affect you.
Avoid studying in a place where you will be tempted to sleep. While it’s okay to take a power nap during your study time, avoid studying right near your bed as it will be tempting to give up and just go to sleep.
4. When to Study
The best time to study depends on your body’s clock. If you are an early riser, studying in the early morning hours may be ideal for your concentration. If you tend to stay up late, sleep a little later in the morning so you can preserve all of your energy for a late night study session. When you start to feel tired and lose concentration, take a break, a power nap or have an energy-boosting snack to revitalize you.
Learning how to study effectively is both an art and a science. While there are scientifically proven methods that will help you to learn and study better, you can modify them to suit your individual learning style. Whether you use a mnemonic device, study while sitting on the floor, take breaks every 10 minutes or study with friends, selecting the way that works best for you is key to getting the best results. By choosing the right methods, equipping yourself with the right tools and creating the right environment, you will be well on your way to acing your exam every time.