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Study Tips From A Terrible Studier

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SBU chapter.

At least once a day the thought, I have the memory of a goldfish, goes through my head. Why a goldfish? Someone once told me they have a five-second memory which is why they never get bored swimming around their little goldfish bowl. With absolutely no scholarly evidence to support this, I chose to believe it. Funny enough, I don’t even remember who told me.

Random Goldfish (potential) facts aside, the point is I have a terrible memory. This has always made studying a nightmare for me. It has been nearly a year since I have actually had to study for a test as most of the classes for my journalism degree are writing or project-based. Unfortunately, this semester I am having to take a biology class, and the study-free year has come to an end. Being that I am a terrible studier. I have come to learn some great studying tricks that I have been forced to think about again as my first biology exam approaches.

For everyone getting back into the swing of things at school and approaching their first round of major tests, here are my five best study tips for anyone who also feels some days like they have the memory of a goldfish.

  1. Use a song. Think about how many random songs you have learned absolutely every single word to without even trying. This trick is great for small but important pieces of information you have to memorize like formulas, names, years etc. Take a piece of whatever song is stuck in your head at the time and apply the information you need to know to it. I still remember that the rain stays on a cold front but goes ahead of a warm front from applying the concept to a Christmas song eight years ago and I memorized every U.S. president when I took U.S. history only because some angel had put them all into a rendition of America the Beautiful.
  2. Make a story. Story plots are another thing many people can memorize easily without even realizing it. Think about if I asked you to tell me the plot of a book you read in elementary school. It would probably be easier than you would think. This method is easiest with subjects like history where there are actual stories, but it can work for any subject. Make a story about how a cell gets it energy or the story of how 2500 gets divided by 76. It might feel really stupid to be doing, but when the night before a test rolls around and it’s time to retain four weeks of information in one night, feeling silly is the least of your worries.
  3. Color coordinate. If you are a visual learner, this method can be very effective especially if you have multiple sets of information you have to retain. Write out different topics, concepts, vocabulary words, formulas etc. in different colors. Not only will this give you a way to differentiate topics in your notes, but it will give you something to jog your memory during the test. Sometimes I get into a test and there is a piece of information that I know exists somewhere in the jumbled mess that is my brain, but I just can’t pull it out. Having color coordinated notes allows you to picture the colors in your head and pull the information out that way. During exams, stress can get in the way of thinking clearly. Being able to slow down your thought process, picture your notes and say ok was this a yellow or red word can be just what you need to pull the information out of the jumbled mess.
  4. Pretend to teach it. Instead of just reading your notes, pretend you are reading them to a person who has absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Pretend it is your job to make the imaginary person understand. Being able to explain a topic in a way that will allow another person to understand it will ensure you can understand it even if you are just reading off your notes.
  5. Be creative, even if it seems dumb. I love coming up with stupid ways to remember things because that always ends up being the most effective for me. I remember the difference between hypertonic and hypotonic solutions because hypertonic causes cells to shrivel and hypotonic causes them to expand and possibly explode, so I say if something is shriveling you would say “rrrr that’s not good” and if something exploded you would say “oh no!” While my lab group looked at me like a crazy person when I attempted to explain this method to them, it has worked for me since ninth grade biology.
Ciao! My name is Elizabeth and I am a sophomore journalism major at St. Bonaventure. I love to write and I am so excited to have my work included on this fantastic platform for college women!