10 Study Tips For Earning An A On Your Next Exam – College Info Geek
Today’s video is brought to you by the French philosopher Voltaire, to whom is attributed the aphorism “Perfect is the enemy of good.” It’s a good reminder for this video because I’m gonna give you 10 specific tips that you can use today to both prepare for your exams more effectively and also perform better on those exams when you’re actually taking them. The thing to remember here though is that 10 tips are a lot to take in at once, and if you tried to execute on all 10 of these at once you’re not gonna have good results. So when you get to the end of this video pick one or two that you think can help improve your specific test taking abilities, and then try to put those into action. Let’s get started.
To make the most from your studying don’t focus on the time you invest. Focus on the quality of your study session over the quantity you do. This is one of the key things we focus on and we absolutely think you can get twice the results in half the time. Make sure you grab the free audiobook Unlimited Memory by a chess grandmaster which will absolutely transform your results overnight if you apply the techniques.
The first tip has to do with the few minutes immediately leading up to your exam, and it’s to do a test preparation ritual. Now in my mind this ritual has two specific components. Number one, if you’re prone to test anxiety, then the first thing you’re gonna want to do is pull out a piece of paper and write out the specific things that are worrying you. As we talked about in my video on test anxiety, a study done at the University of Chicago actually proved that students who did this got better grades on their tests. Now the next component to the ritual is to brain dump any important information that you have loaded into your brain right now onto a piece of scratch paper, or the margins of the test if you can. This includes formulas, measurement conversions, and other important facts that you’re afraid you might forget during the test, but that you think you might need.
The second tip is to be on the lookout for later questions in the test that might provide insight or answers to earlier questions. I’ve actually noticed tests that I’ve taken in previous classes where this has happened. Later on in the test I’ll find a question that references something in an earlier question, and it might actually flat out give the answer. To put this tip in more general context, simply go back and look over your answers after you’re done with the test. That way anything that references anything else in the test is going to catch your eye. Tip number three is to do a cheat card exercise. Now in some classes a teacher might let you bring in a cheat sheet, or an index card, filled with notes to assist you on the test. But usually this isn’t gonna happen.
Still, go through the exercise of making this cheat sheet. Going through the exercise of forcing yourself to try to condense all the material you’re studying for the test into one little summary is gonna help you learn the most important parts of the material. Even if you’re not allowed to bring that resulting cheat card into the test, you’ve now gone through an exercise that has really efficiently encoded the information in your brain. Now your brain basically has that cheat card stored inside of it, and this is just a simple way to exploit the fact that the brain learns best through active recall. It learns best when you have to work hard to pull information out of your head. At the same time, you’re also forcing youself to think critically about what information is the most important. What is gonna fit on that little 3 by 5 index card? When you combine those two factors together you’ll find that you’re studying the most important information in the most efficient way.
With tip number four we’re staying on that active learning, active recall train, but this time the tip is to create quizzes out of your notes and lecture materials, and then force yourself to take them. Just with like the cheat card exercise, you’re forcing yourself to condense the most important information you’re studying into a more compact format, but then you’re also bringing some pressure into the situation by forcing yourself to take that quiz. Now, speaking of that, the next tip is to try to simulate the test conditions as best as you can when you’re studying. This means going to the testing room to study, actually simulating the time constraints of the test when you’re taking your quizzes, and also getting your hands on old practice tests that you can study from.
Basically do whatever you can to make your study sessions mirror the actual test. Tip number six has to do if you find yourself stuck on a question during a test, and if this happens, try to visualize your study area. Now the reason you’d want to do this is because research has shown that learning is context dependent. For example, in one study half of the research participants learned something on land, while the other half learned something while underwater in scuba gear. When tested on their recall later, the students who learned with the scuba gear on underwater actually were able to recall the information better when they were back underwater in said scuba gear.
What I’m trying to tell you here is that you should study underwater. Now this is not a new discovery, and another good example of this comes from the philosopher John Locke, who wrote about, “A young gentleman, who, having learned to dance, “and that to great perfection, “there happened to stand an old trunk “in the room where he learned. “The idea of this remarkable piece of household stuff “had so mixed itself up with the turns “and the steps of his dances, “that though in the chamber he could dance excellently well, “yet it was only whilst the trunk was there; “nor could he perform well in any other place, “unless that or some such other trunk “had its due position in the room.” Now, the English is a little weird in that passage, but I’m sure you can get the point. This all comes back around to visualizing your study location when you’re stuck though, because other research has shown that people who do this are sometimes able to overcome the effects of context dependent learning. Basically that means that if you happen to study in the library and then you visualize the library the memory of that study location might help you forge connections to the material you’re trying to recall. Tip number seven is to try doing at least one of your study sessions while out on a walk. If you’re having trouble grasping a certain concept, then try going on a walk and reviewing it while you’re outside.
Now many people actually find that when they’re doing physical activity and they’re outside, their brain makes better connections, but you’re getting an additional benefit as well. While you’re outside, you’re looking at the problem from a different perspective. Barbara Oakley’s book, A Mind for Numbers, points out that doing this helps you review a concept and learn it while independent of any environmental cues of one specific place. My eighth tip is to apply Hofstadter’s Law to the act of studying. Now Hofstadter’s Law states that, “It always takes longer than you think, “even when taking into account Hofstadter’s Law.” Encoding the information needed to earn a certain test grade is almost always gonna take you longer than you expect it will. Yes, I know you’re absolutely certain that later on tonight you’re gonna study really, really hardcore, but then your friends are gonna come in and want to do something, or a five minute study break is gonna turn into a Netflix binge.
This is just simple reality, and smart people plan around reality. So take the date that you’re planning on starting to study for your test, and try moving it back a week. That way you’re giving yourself ample time to review and revise, even if things get in the way that you didn’t anticipate. Tip number nine is to be deliberate about taking all your small tasks and grouping them into as few small, concentrated blocks of time as you can. This’ll free up time in your schedule to create large uninterrupted blocks of study time. Now when you’re doing this, as a general rule of thumb, try to put those uninterrupted study sessions as early as you can in the day. This is because your willpower is a finite resource, and if you use it all on small tasks earlier in the day, you’re not gonna have as much left over for that big study session you need to get to. This is where the saying “Eat your frogs first” came from.
Do the hardest things when your willpower reserves are as high as they can go. And we are finally to the last tip, and it is simply to appreciate test taking as part of the learning process. Viewing tests only as assessments, as basically judgements, makes them scary and causes undue stress. Instead, try to see your tests as beautiful, concentrated bursts of recall and application. And you can also reduce further stress with cats.
So that is it for this video. If you found it helpful you can always leave a Like down below to help support this channel, and if you want to find more videos with more additional tips on how to do better on your tests, then this channel is absolutely full of them. On the screen right now you’ll see thumbnails for videos on finals tips, how to deal with test anxiety, how to not make stupid mistakes on your exams, and also whether or not you should change answers on your exams if you feel like changing them. Whichever one fits your fancy click it right now, and hopefully it’ll teach you something new.
Lastly, if you have questions that are still unanswered, or maybe you saw something in this video that piqued your curiosity, and now you want a more in depth video in the future, then leave those questions down in the comments. Those comments are super helpful for me because they let me know what to make next, and somebody might actually answer your question in the meantime. So that’s it, thank you so much for watching and I will see you next week. Hey guys, thanks so much for watching to the end of this video on test prep. Now if you want to get more tips on being an effective student every single week then you can hit that big red Subscribe button right there. I also wrote a book on how to earn better grades which is absolutely free, so if you’d like me to send you a copy click on the picture of the book and I’ll get one to you. You can find a summary for this video, along with links to a lot of the research i mentioned, and other resources at the companion blog post which can be accessed at the orange logo right there. Last weeks video talked about how to craft a good sleep schedule when the rest of your schedule is hectic, and fittingly, I created that video at 4am before going to Vid. Con, but check it out anyway.
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