OPINION: The Secret of Studying

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OPINION: The Secret of Studying

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We all know that feeling of dread. The one you get right before a test because you know you did not study enough or if you did study, you did it wrong. We all think next time we’ll do something different, but many don’t know what to do when studying. Many would just say that you should study longer but that won’t do you any good if you aren’t studying the right things or are studying the wrong way. Amy Lucas gave great advice on studying saying, “Don’t study harder, study smarter.” Here are five things you should do to improve your studying and five things you should not do.

Things You Should Do

Time Management. Time management is really important when it comes to studying. It is never a good idea to only study the night before the test because you are not learning the information; you are just memorizing it. According to Winerman with the American psychological association, “Decades of research have demonstrated that spacing out study sessions over a longer period of time improves long-term memory.” It will also be easier to recall the information for semester and final tests. A great way to manage your time is with a time table. Spread your studying out and do a little bit every night. Be sure to include breaks in your schedule!

Study Groups. Studying with friends is a great way to get help with something you don’t understand and it makes studying more enjoyable. Get a group together, set aside some time (on your timetable), maybe meet at your favorite coffee shop, and start studying. Or you can create a shared google document and ask question, share study guides and other tools you use to study. Being in a study group will also keep you accountable, and it will make sure you are studying. Don’t make your study group too serious though, bring snacks and take breaks. You can also play brain games or educational games in your study group with the information you are studying. Sophmore Sydney Pottebaum has her own study group for AP World History. She said, “We all share our quizlets and ask each other questions and have discussions, it really helps me.” They use a google doc. to ask questions and share information.

Sleep. Did you know your long term memories form best right before or right after you sleep? Take a nap during your study session, that way you are refreshed and the information you are studying get stored into your long term memory. You can even take a nap in your study group.

Flashcards. Creating flashcards is a great way to study. You are learning and studying the material even when you are making the flashcards. Flashcards work best with subjects that have you remember dates and quick facts. You can go old school and use pen and paper to create your flashcards or you can use quizlet! This is an app that allows to to create flashcards and not worry about losing them because they are always on your phone. Flashcards are a quick easy way to quick fit some studying into your already busy life.

Practice Tests. After you finish studying for a test find a practice test and take it. This will prepare for question formats and will help you retain the information. According to TheBestColleges.org, “a 2011 study finds students who tested themselves with a practice test after learning the material retained 50% more of the information a week later than their peers who did not take a practice test.” See if your teacher has a practice quiz and if they don’t, search your topic on practicequiz.com, they have many high quality quizzes on lots of subjects. Practice tests will help you study and prepare for the test.

Things You Should Not Do

Distraction. Do not study in an environment where you will be distracted. When you study when there are distractions, you won’t remember what you are studying and you won’t get much done. Instead, go to a quiet room or put in earbuds with quiet music. Also be sure to put your phone away, so you don’t pick it up. This will insure that you focus on your studying.

Be Hungry. Do not study on a empty stomach, this will distract you from what you are doing. Your mind will be more occupied with what you are going to be eating when you are done studying. You will also rush through your studying not retain much. Instead, have a snack before you start. Some foods that help brain power are blueberries, avocados and chocolate.

Study Too Much. Do not study to the point that you can’t think straight. The information can get mixed up in your head and you will forget some of the things you studied because you learned so much. Getting dizzy or a headache can be a sign that you have studied to much. Be sure to take breaks when you are studying and now when to call it a night. Remember study smarter, not harder.

Procrastinate. Do not leave your studying to the last minute. It might help you get a good grade on the test the next day, but when it comes to learning and remembering the information you want to make sure to spread out your studying. Also, procrastinating to the night before will cause stress and anxiety and that will not help you perform well on a test. Try studying a little bit every night, so when test time comes you are not overwhelmed with the information.

Use Mnemonics. Mnemonics are little tricks used to remember facts or information such as, Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally for PEMDAS. Mnemonics work well for remembering information but don’t help you understand what you are learning. They only help you remember what you are suppose to be learning, not understand what you are suppose to remembering. Instead try using diagrams and drawing connections. Try explaining the information to your little sibling or pet because you know the information best when you are able to explain it to someone else.

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