Tips for Studying for a Test
As a high school or college student you may often have to cram lots of information in a short amount of time. This is either due to procrastination, laziness or a jam-packed work load (which is most often the case). We’ll assume here you at least have time to read the material before your test.
Highlight all important phrases. In your study book there may be bolded or italicized terms that will appear significant. Highlight these terms, as they prove to be key and most often they will be mentioned on tests.
Make flash cards. You should be able to describe a term or phrase with little to no effort. Flash cards are great because they are very fast and efficient to repeat over and over until you learn it completely.
Study before bed. Did you know that your brain puts extra effort into memorizing the things you read right before you sleep? This includes naps as well (which is why power naps can do amazing things for the studying college student.) So in the middle of your study session, lay down for 10 minutes and rest. Be sure not to enter deep sleep while napping, otherwise you may feel groggy when you wake up. 10-30 minutes is perfect.
Drink tea, not coffee. Tea has great antioxidants and chemicals that stimulate cognitive function. Coffee may give you a surge of caffeine, but it may also have a crash where it becomes more difficult to pay attention to the content of your books. Energy drinks are worse. The sugar and caffeine overload will derail a test-taker. Go to your local Whole Foods (or equivalent) and ask for an herbal tea blend to help you focus and concentrate.
Learn in chunks. Don’t learn everything at once. Learn in smaller chunks to help you digest the information properly. Think of it as eating a big meal – you eat section by section, bite by bite. The brain assimilates knowledge the same way. By learning too much too fast, you’ll forget most of it.
Back to flash cards – review your information often. This helps the hippocampus in the brain pass the information from short-term to long-term knowledge. Sheer repetition may pass a test, but applying useful significance to information will keep it in your brain for a longer time and allow you to recall it with ease during a test. So with each flash card or potential problem you may have to answer on a test, find a creative way how that information can help you later on. This emotional or intellectual significance will signal key areas of the brain to consume that knowledge as meaningful. Simply regarding a piece of information as trivial may not cue the necessary information absorption, and that information will reflect much like trying to absorb syrup with a sponge.