Assistant professor of psychology Kimberly Fenn has five tips to make sure students get the most out of studying.
Don’t start studying the night before
Everyone has done it. Everyone’s been the victim of procrastination.
However, Fenn said this causes the level of retention to severely decrease.
Fenn said information is retained better when students space out studying attempts. If a student decides that they have to study for four hours to do well on an exam, it’s better to break apart the time into multiple study sessions.
“You’ll actually learn the material better if you break down hours into thirty minutes a day for eight days,” she said.
Fenn said making flashcards is one of the best ways to retain information.
Creating flashcards helps students make a personally customized test.
Fenn said this is called retrieval practice.
“The more often you practice retrieval, the easier retrieval is and the better you’ll perform on an exam,” Fenn said.
Study with others
Gather a group and head to the Main Library.
Studying with others in a group setting creates an atmosphere where students can interact and test each other.
Fenn said when being tested on material by friends, two scenarios could result. Either the student knows the information — or they don’t.
The best case scenario is when you don’t know the information and get slightly embarrassed by the moment before learning the right answer.
However, the embarrassing moment can trigger a memory that makes the answer easier to remember later.
S ay no to drugs
The word “Adderall” becomes very popular around exam time. Fenn said drugs like Adderall can actually impair performance.
Even though the prescription drug might help some students stay awake longer, Fenn said it doesn’t necessarily make you more efficient at encoding the information.
When taking an exam, Fenn said that internal conditions of the body should be similar to what it was like during studying.
Embrace your pillow
Sleep is extremely valuable during exam time.
Fenn said when students don’t get a good amount of sleep, they show impaired cognitive processing across a range or tasks.
“You actually feel like you’re thinking slower and that’s true,” she said. “Perception speed is lower, arousal is lower, response time is higher.”
Getting a full night of sleep will help in retrieving more information and thinking more creatively.