For most of us, studying was never taught in schools – we were simply expected to know how to do it. This has led to a lot of us not really knowing how to really study. But don’t worry, there are a ton of resources that can help – like this one, for instance. Here are just 10 steps on how you can study for a test:
- Have a good study space set-up. Make sure there’s a desk, a computer, and a few pencils available. It helps if the space is located away from lots of noise. Organizing the test material before you begin studying can really help to keep track of everything. I recommend installing a file system. I organize my work by assigning a specific folder for each class, so I don’t mix up my papers.
- Remove distractions. I know, it’s really tempting to check Instagram or text your friends every few minutes, but keeping close things that you know can easily distract you guarantees that you won’t be able to study for long. Turn off notifications on your phone and computer, and set up a playlist beforehand so you don’t spend a lot of time finding songs. If you can, ask your family not to bother you while you’re studying.
- Don’t cram. When you study days or even weeks before the test, you can get more work done. Cramming only leads to unnecessary stress and ineffective studying. I recommend blocking out your time about a month before a big test, reviewing each day’s work to make sure you understand the right concepts.
- Study later in the day. Most people work better later in the day, and studying right before you go to bed helps you remember the content. (This doesn’t apply to everyone though – know when you study best!)
- Snack responsibly. It’s very easy to just grab a bag of chips as fuel, but when you’re studying, try to eat healthy. You’re more alert and you remember stuff better when you eat nutrient-rich foods. Vegetables like carrots, dried fruit, and nuts are great light snacks. Try not to eat anything too calorie-rich, like pasta; it tends to make people sleepy.
- Do something – don’t just review the textbook. People study and remember content better when they’ve written it out, repeated it verbally, or quizzed themselves on the content (even better if it’s all of the above). In my opinion, the best way to study is to utilize practice tests. Try building up the important concepts for the entire unit. (Quiz yourself on the day’s content, then the entire week’s, and so on.) Some great resources for studying are listed below.
- Stay comfy! It’s best to make yourself as comfortable as possible, without drifting off to sleep, of course. Studying in a nice chair, drinking tea, and getting a nice blanket is great while studying! It makes the whole thing a little less intimidating. But be careful – getting too comfortable might make you sleepy and distract you from actually studying. Try to find a good balance.
- Use colors. Colored highlighters, flashcards, and sticky notes are proven to improve studying. Your brain remembers red and blue colors best, so I recommend you use red or blue ink when you’re writing things down. Additionally, colors help you find information straight away, which definitely helps with organization.
- Take breaks. You should be taking 20 minute breaks after about 50 minutes of studying. To clear your mind, you can go on a walk, engage with family or friends, or do something creative, like drawing. If you’re feeling sick of studying, try switching to another subject, then back again. This’ll help refresh your brain.
- Be nice to yourself. Try to remember that you’re only human. You’ll get distracted and make mistakes, but that’s normal. What’s important is that you make the effort.
Good luck! I do hope this helped. Here are some great (and free!) resources for studying:
- Quizlet (make flashcards and test yourself)
- Kahoot (you can create live quizzes and play with friends)
- Google Calendar (schedule study sessions for yourself)
- Khan Academy (lessons you can complete and videos)