My mother was really big on setting up the perfect environment for studying when I was in high school. Here was the deal. She insisted that the best way to study was to be in my room, at a desk she and my father spent good money on, with the door closed and no disturbances. There I sat, in a hard-back chair, staring into space, wondering how I was supposed to study for a final exam that was three days away. I humored them, though, while I pulled my headphones out of a hidden place and my iPod from my pocket. Two hours later, I emerged and told them that I had finished studying for the night. Peace and tranquility reigned in the household!
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Long before, I had realized that I was a binge studier – that I was one of those people who knew how to study better for my own needs. When exams came along, everyone, from teachers to friends to parents, had their study tips for finals, and most included breaking down the materials into chunks and studying for several days, a chunk at a time. The problem for me was it didn’t work.
Over time, now that I am in college, I get that exam study tips are not “one size fits all.” While I have become a master in how to study for a test the night before, others cannot do this! So, after doing a bit of research on my friends, I have come up with the best study tips that will fit a broad range of studying types.
Figure Out Your Study Style
I can’t study sitting at a desk; others can. Your best physical environment is one that gives you personal comfort and that allows you to absorb material best. Other aspects of the environment are background noise or lack thereof, room temperature, and need for food. All of these things impact your comfort level, and one of the best exam tips I can give is to find your comfort zone and stick to it.
Are You an Isolationist or a Social Being?
One of the most important exam study tips comes from your nature. If you are an innately social person, then you will do better studying with another person; if you are more of a loner in your school work, then you should also study for exams by yourself.
Determine What Kind of Learner You Are
You can be an auditory, visual or tactile-kinesthetic learner – you may learn best by hearing something, by seeing something or by being physically involved as your learn. Most people are combination learners, so here are some exam study tips for each type of learner.
- If you are visual, then you can study by reading the materials (notes, highlighted passages in text, etc.) silently to yourself.
- If you are auditory, then you will need to read out loud those notes, highlighted passages, etc. You need to hear it!
- If you are tactile-kinesthetic, then your best bet is to write the notes down again as you study, or pace as you read and review.
- If you are a combination learner, then do all three, like I do. I read my notes aloud as I write them down again, and that works for me, especially when there is a lot of content to remember.
- If you will do a little personal research, by trial and error, you will be able to determine how to study for exams in your personal style.
Know Your Capacity for Remembering!
If there is a lot of content to memorize for an exam, one of the most important study tips I can recommend is this: Only you know how long you can retain information. If you memorize an amount of information three days before an exam, can you still remember it on the day of the exam? If you can, you should begin studying early and divide the content into chunks.
If you are like me, however, you don’t retain information for a long time. For you, pulling “all-nighters” may be the most successful method. I cram all night, take the exam, go to bed, and promptly forget all that I had learned. It works for me!