Test Study Tips that Work

Kate Hancock, Editor, Journalist

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One of the challenges that comes to me in preparing for a test is how to best study for that test. How do I make sure that I know all that I need to know? How do I reach that point where I feel comfortable with my knowledge and understanding? In response to my own questions, and possibly to the questions of others, here are a few study tips that work:

1. Regular Reviewing
This is a tip that helped me a lot in preparation for a Constitution bowl in my government and economics class. Regular review helps to drill the facts into my head, thus helping me to be less forgetful. It is good to find a regular review schedule that works for you, whether it is every day, every couple of days, or once a week. The regular review doesn’t need to be elaborate: keep it simple, 5 to 15 minutes. There are great resources offline and online that can provide the necessary support for regular reviewing. For example, you could use flashcards to help you review or a study help site such as Quizlet.com.

2. Teach It
In a book by Dr. Michael L. Jones called The Overnight Student, he cites a study which illustrated that teaching others helps us to better remember things. This study was done on fourth grade students, who each were “…given the same written material to study by reading silently. Then half the class reinforced their reading by illustrating it, while each member of the other half reinforced it by teaching it to another student.”1 The students were later tested two different times, and those that taught “…scored higher, two days later, than the ‘illustrating students’ scored immediately after illustrating!”1

When we try to teach something we have learned to someone else, we have to squeeze that information out of our heads in such a way that would allow it to make sense to others, which also helps us to reinforce our own learning. Not surprisingly, “It has been said that we remember 14% of what we hear, 22% of what we both see and hear, 70% of movies in our mind, and 91% of what we teach others.”1 This study tip can be accomplished by grabbing a sibling, cat, stuffed animal, or even the wall and then explaining to them in your own words the concept you want to remember well.

3. Association
Association can be defined as “…the method by which you link a thing to be remembered to a method of remembering it.”2 Association helps us to remember a concept or word by making a connection with something that is more easily remembered. Some ways of using association could be finding a concept’s application to real life or applying it to something silly. For example, in order to remember Newton’s 1st law (that objects at rest wish to remain at rest), I found a real life application by connecting that concept to the fact that it can be hard to get out of bed. Another example is that in order to remember a Spanish verb ending ‘-ieron’ I associated it with this thought; the ‘o’ has been taken captive and trapped between ‘r’ and ‘n’ with the ‘i’ standing guard and with ‘e’ as back up. Another way that this tip could be accomplished is, when studying vocabulary words, to draw or find pictures that go with those words.

Now, this is certainly not a comprehensive list of study tips, just a few which have worked for me in times past. These tips and others have helped me to be fairly successful in preparing for tests and studying in general. If you are eager for more study tips there are many resources online which can help, such as academictips.org or a Google search. And in addition to using study tips, it is also quite necessary to live life: eat, sleep, etc. Study well, but do not to let it take over your life so that you become a depleted zombie. Remember the wise words of Dr. Seuss, “step with care and great tact, and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act.”3

Citations:
1- Jones, Dr. Michael L. The Overnight Student. Louis Publishing, 1990. PDF.
2-“Academictips.org – Memory Techniques, Memorization Tips – Association, Imagination and Location.” Academictips.org. Web. 6 Feb. 2015. <http://www.academictips.org/memory/assimloc.html>.
3-“Dr. Seuss Quote.” Brainyquote.com. BrainyQuote. Web. 6 Feb. 2015. <http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/d/drseuss597903.html>.

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