Everyone is preparing for late-night study sessions while listening to lo-fi music and organizing all the materials they need to ace their exams. Meanwhile, I’m trying to break the bad habit of teaching myself concepts the night before an exam. How do you even start figuring out the correct methods to study so you can have at least some idea of all the information you’ve learned over the past three and a half months?
Luckily, a quick Google search of “helpful study methods” and conversations with friends bring in more insight on how to start. I know I’m not the only one looking through every possible study method that may help make final exam season a lot easier. Everyone has different study tips and tricks that work for them, but here are some ideas to consider if you’re looking to change the way you study for the better:
- Quizlet: It’s free to sign up and it allows you to make your own flashcards, answer practice questions, etc.. This is an ideal method for people who learn the best by quick memorization without bulky paragraphs all at once. You can even choose to subscribe to one of Quizlet’s premium plans that accesses even more features like a progression of how your studying is going and the ability to study offline on the go.
- Colour-coding notes: This is the current study method I’ve found is working for me. I came up with a legend that better describes what each colour means. For example, you could have yellow as general information, blue as vocabulary, green as definitions, and orange as important lists or concepts. It’s a good visual for those who prefer looking at their key information at a quick glance with a neat legend to keep everything organized.
- Mind maps: Mind maps help condense your information to the important concepts while visually seeing how connected they are to one another. This is versatile in nature, considering you can use them for many different reasons like rough brainstorming, note-taking, studying and memorizing, and problem-solving. You start with your main concept in the middle and develop subtopics surrounding it. As you continue, you make connections between how all your topics are directly or indirectly linked to each other.
- Diagrams: Through the use of graphics, they provide concise explanations between the relationships and concepts so you can visualize what exactly is being described. The good thing about diagrams is you can add on extra notes to the side and make connections without referring to lots of text all at once.
- Pomodoro technique: This is a method that’s becoming increasingly popular. The Pomodoro method lets people work productively in timed periods, then take a short break to quickly refresh the mind. The cycle repeats! Most people use 25-minute chunks to study followed by 5-minute breaks. You also have the option for longer periods of time, which could include 45 minutes of working followed by 15 minutes of rest. Personally, this technique has helped me manage my time effectively as I only focus on working as productively as I can for a short period of time with the reward of a small break.
- Lifeat.io: LifeAt Spaces might be one of my favourite study tools that I’ve found this year. It’s a website that offers virtual study and workspaces from content creators worldwide. You can shuffle between choosing spaces including cafés, libraries, and fantasy worlds from your favourite fandoms, and even getting the chance to “study” with your favourite celebrities! It also comes with lo-fi music and a timer that would allow you to practice the previously mentioned Pomodoro technique. You can also create an account for extra features including a calendar, sounds, a to-do list, notes section, and more.
- Spaced repetition: I haven’t personally used this method, but I can say that my previous professors and instructors swear by this technique for more effective studying. The strategy involves learning lessons by reviewing them repeatedly with increasing intervals to retain information long-term instead of short-term. For example, you would quickly review concepts one day after your first learning session. Later on, you would review the same concepts for 7 -14 days until you feel comfortable with the material. By using this method, the brain learns the information better because you’ve spaced them out instead of cramming topics all at once. Experts say harder lessons are better to study in shorter intervals and easier lessons are better to study in wider intervals. Students also swear by using flashcards on Anki, a free computer software and $25 mobile app, that allows them to be quizzed more often on concepts they need more practice with and tested less often on the material they are familiar with.
- Practice quizzes: As the name suggests, practice quizzes are essentially composed of informal test questions that prepare you for the real thing. This is a beneficial study tool because it highlights gaps that you may have in learning certain concepts. In addition, you can look up past exam questions and ask your professor for relevant examples. It can be used with spaced repetition to retain as much information as possible, apply your newfound knowledge to actual questions instead of reading points off your notes, and reduce overall test anxiety.
- Studying with others: Studying with my friends helps me reinforce any gaps that I have with connecting topics together. You can also combine this with creating practice test questions so you can quiz each other verbally! This encourages you to think outside of the box and consider perspectives you never would have thought about before. This is especially true when studying for courses that involve a lot of application or problem-solving skills to the test. Plus, you’re more motivated to mimic their behaviour which ultimately reduces your own procrastination and increases productivity. Yay!
It’s important to remember that not everyone will see the same results by using the same tools. What works for one person won’t always work for you, which is totally okay. It’s a matter of trial and error to see what works best for you with your strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully, this list was able to help out one way or another as you choose the study method that appeals to you the most or brainstorms other potential study techniques. Either way, studying requires a lot of discipline and perseverance but from one procrastinator to another, it will be worth it to reap the hard-earned rewards that you deserve!