Studying for exams can be a hard thing to do, especially if you fail to start early enough. Here are our top 3 study systems, and our top 3 generic study tips to help you get a better mark, with less time spent studying. Each study system works best with different courses, so be sure to try them all.
Study Methods: These work best if you initiate them at least 1 week prior to the exam.
1. Flash cards. Probably one of the oldest methods, flash-cards are great for courses such as Biology where you need to memorize a ton of terms. You can also write out theories, or diagrams. Write the flash cards as soon as you can, and then go over them 1-2 times each day, up until the exam. You should be guessing 95-100% correct by the end. If not, go through them more.
2. Mind maps and Holistic Learning – studying using mind maps is a great way to review courses with a ton of related information, such as geography. By creating and reviewing mind maps of course concepts, you will be able to recall hopefully the entire course from a single term. (e.g. topographic > UTM grid > true north > glaciers > glaciation ).
3. Condense, then memorize. This is a technique that I recently learned from my English teacher. Basically, you write out everything you need to know for the course onto paper. You will likely have 10+ pages. The next day, condense these four pages. Do not remove any content, but instead remove unnecessary language. You should be able to recall all of the information from the original 10+ sheets by looking at the new four. The next couple days, repeat this step, but fit it onto a single page, divided into four sections. It may take a couple days of reviewing the sheets, but you should be able to recall all 10+ pages of information simply by looking at that page. The final step is to memorize the single sheet, so you can visualize it in your head during the exam.
Generic Study Tips: No matter how you study, use these to improve your performance on judgment day.
1. Don’t cram the night before the exam. It is proven that studying a large amount of material the night before an exam is very unproductive. Not only do you fail to learn anything, but you also lose sleep, which brings me to my next point.
2. Get a good night’s sleep the night before, and eat well. There’s nothing worse that going into an exam after staying up until 4am the previous night, eating two boxes of pizza. A good amount of sleep and nutritious food will help you concentrate during the exam.
3. Do not go into the exam stressed out. Consider doing something fun like watching a movie or going out to lunch with friends before your exam. The key to this is to know your material, and don’t rely on cramming 4 hours prior to the actual exam. Keeping your body and mind relaxed will improve your recall, comprehension, and thought process during the exam.