Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Top 10 Studying Tips

    Miss Zimby trying to help me study last year.
Oh hey there. How's it going? Being a Psychology major, I've learned quite a bit about short and long-term memory. That also means I've learned tons of studying tips that make life easier and help you actually remember the information! I thought I would share this knowledge with all of you fellow procrastinators/study haters (don't deny it).

1.  Repetition is NOT key. If you are studying flashcards and just spitting out the definition when a word pops up, good luck on your test. While you will remember some things, the information is stored shallowly. It stays in your short term memory (STM) for a bit, and then you're likely to forget it right after. That's all fine and dandy in high school, but in college people generally take classes because they want to do something in the field later...so it's important you actually remember what you learned.

2. Connect meaning. This goes along with the repetition. Instead of just looking at your flashcards, try to explain something in your own words and come up with your own examples. The information is processed more deeply when you do that, and is more likely to be stored in your long term memory (LTM), which is what you should be aiming for! Also, information people generate (think of on your own) is more likely to be remembered than what you simply hear or read.

3. Be active and talk. This is kind of weird but it really works! When you are looking over your key terms or whatever it is that you're studying, move around, and say it all out loud. Your brain is going to make more connections, and store the information in more places that way. If you're gonna do this, I suggest you go into the basement of the library a your school, so you don't get as many weird looks. Don't forget to picture what you're learning in your mind!

4. Don't. Study. Continuously. This is something a lot of people do. They shack up in the library for three days straight before the exam, and study their hearts out. You are actually more likely to learn the information if you study in little amounts, over a period of time. So study for a while one day, then walk away. A day or two later, go back to the information and study it again. Do that a few times, and you will be far better off than those kids sleeping in the library. And you'll smell better...

5. Study like you're taking the test. I know tons of people love to listen to music while they are studying. The state you are in when you study, is the state you will remember best in. This is also true for your mood. So if you are angry and listening to your iPod while studying, you probably will have a hard time remembering things when you are in a calm quiet setting taking the test. While heading to the library is a step in the right direction, checking Facebook and eating a cookie will get you nowhere.

6. Sleep & Cram before bed. I personally am a crammer. Bad, I know, but I generally do well on tests because I cram the right way. If you are cramming, do it before you fall asleep so that nothing interferes with the information you just used, and you better be taking that test first thing in the morning. It's actually tried and true that your memory is better if you sleep after studying, than if you're awake and doing things. Your brain stores the information in your long term memory while you're sleeping, so you'll be able to recall it better later!

7. Don't focus on the things you know. I feel like this is a no-brainer, but when you're studying it's easy to get caught up in constantly looking over all the information. Go over the things you have a hard time with at the beginning of studying, and at the end. Skim the things you know and are comfortable with in the middle. This is called the primacy and recency effects. You remember the first and last things the best.

8. Use mnemonics! Whether you come up with a rhyme, a song, or an acronym, mnemonics can be super helpful when you're studying, and will help with information recall on the test! To learn more about all the different types of mnemonic devices, click here!

9. Test yourself! In between those study break's I talked about earlier, test yourself! Look up anything that you got wrong, and focus on understanding that information. Because you got it wrong and had to look it up, you are likely to remember it (because you will remember having to look up the answer). 

10.Dirty connections. This is probably my favorite. Similar to using mnemonic devices, if you make dirty/strange connections while studying, you're more likely to remember it. This is because that information will kind of stick out like a sore thumb in your mind. In my high school bio class, I remembered all the different sugars and proteins because I assigned them all gang names, and one was a pimp. I got an A so it must've worked!

They may seem a little odd, but I promise these studying techniques do actually help. P.S. Don't let your cat study with you. Hope everyone's having a great week!

 Don't forget to sleep!

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