6 Study Habits That Will Improve Your Retention Of Everything
How can you manage your study time and absorb everything you are learning?
1. Jump around.
Study at home. At Starbucks. At the library. Mix up the locale to keep it fresh. Study alone. Study in a group. Study with a partner. Make notes of concepts you don’t understand and circle back to them later. When I don’t understand something, I ask an expert colleague or a family member to explain it to me. Conceptual understanding (not all memorization) is key to succeeding on most exams. For most subject material, you want to learn this information, not memorize and forget about it as soon as the test is over.
I am a HUGE fan of naps. They may protect brain circuits from overuse and help you consolidate newly learned information. My natural inclination is to go all out, and give 100% every day. For example, today I went to the gym, hit up the grocery store, knocked out some laundry, cooked some protein, wrote notes/addressed Christmas cards, decorated my first Christmas tree, and then took a delicious 40 minute nap before getting ready for a work event.
3. Break a sweat.
Give your brain a boost of information recall with some pre-exam exercise. Studies show that exercise improves memory and brain function, in addition to physical fitness.
4. Talk Nerdy To Me
Reading and highlighting are OUT and practice tests and flashcards are IN. You can write your own version of the definition or draw a picture to help trigger your comprehension of the concept. Got a date who is running late? Not a problem for you Miss fastidious! Whip out your portable flashcards and flip through them for a few minutes.
5. Don’t be Santa.
Unless you’re Santa, you can’t do it all in one night. Break up your studying into small chunks over several weeks instead of one long procrastinated cram session the night before (sounds awful!) Do it the right, steady-paced way, working your way to the top of the mountain and you will walk in on exam day feeling like the confident champ that you are.
When I was in high school Dawson’s Creek was still on and I went to a college prep advisor, Bernie. This guy was awesome, a real character, and best of all, he was an expert on SAT, ACT, and college application essays. His signature exam-day ritual? Instructing students to bring a Snickers or other chocolate with them to the exam and for them to eat it during the break. Halfway through the SAT’s I looked around and saw all of the other “Bernie” students with their chocolate. Nourish your brain the morning of the exam and plan ahead with chocolate or another “brain power” food of your choice for the break!
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