If you’re in school or in the working world, you’re bound to take an exam sooner or later—and you want to make sure that you ace it. This article on how to study, explains how to use these seven helpful secrets and methods to not only get ready for the exam but also to ensure your success on it once the time comes! And if you’re ever having trouble getting started on studying, just follow these seven secrets and methods, and you’ll be well on your way to acing any exam you take!
1) Focus on knowledge retention, not rote memorization
You don’t need to memorize every aspect of a subject to do well on an exam. Just remember key concepts, and be able to explain them in your own words; if you can do that, you can usually answer a wide range of test questions correctly. Read over your notes regularly and try building upon what you already know. Make flashcards of key points, and try explaining them out loud or writing them down on paper—this is a great way to make sure they really stick.
2) Learn how to understand what you read
This means focusing on specific topics and making a real effort to understand what you’re reading. Instead of skimming through pages or sentences, slow down and try asking yourself questions as you read. Does what you’re reading make sense? Is there anything you don’t understand? If so, take notes and mark those sections for later review. A few minutes of careful reading can often help in understanding more than hours of mindless skimming.
3) Practice under realistic time constraints
Test yourself on information and see how long it takes you to complete. You may be surprised at what you don’t know, or learn that you are spending a lot of time studying material that will never be tested. Make sure you know what will be on your test before your begin studying. Pay attention in class and take detailed notes, because most tests are constructed from information pulled from those notes. Study with friends if possible, because having someone around will keep your mind focused during study sessions.
4) Visualize the material through mind maps
It may sound a little hokey, but mind maps can be a great study aid. Mind maps allow you to organize thoughts and ideas in an easy-to-digest visual format. Create an outline of your notes, then break it down into key concepts, subtopics, and bullet points. From there, add images that remind you of particular bits of information; for example, draw a picture if you’re studying psychology or a graphic for chemistry equations.
5) Study with a peer
A study partner can offer both insight and encouragement. If you have a friend who’s in your class, consider studying with them at least once during each semester. They’ll hold you accountable and might be able to offer suggestions on how to improve your time management skills as well.
6) Don’t forget – brain breaks are useful too!
If you’re stuck on a problem, don’t waste your time staring at it in frustration; take a break and try again later. Research shows that taking a brain break is one of the most effective ways to boost your memory. Take 5 minutes out of every hour of studying—it doesn’t have to be longer—and take deep breaths or go for a walk. The extra oxygen will help clear your mind and let your focus return.
7) Get enough sleep
Before an exam, make sure you get enough sleep—the whole week leading up to it. Not only will you be well-rested, but your mind will be fresh, and you’ll avoid feeling groggy come test day. A good night’s rest is hard to beat.