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Being nervous about tests seems hard-wired into our systems. Even online classes and programs, like those offered at Ashworth College, can produce some anxiety. Are you worried about an upcoming test? Fear not, as there are ways to ensure that you are studying better and smarter! Scroll down to see the most effective study techniques that help students of any age prepare for success.
Ambient music, dim lighting, and minimal distractions describe the ideal study space—but only for some students. The Thought Company states that what others find an optimal environment for learning might not work best for everyone else. Some prefer the hushed chatter of cafe-goers, while others find the corner table in a library the best place to absorb information. In other words, it’s important that you find a space most conducive for your learning style.
Everyone may face a bout of the jitters before taking a major exam. To avoid or counter this scenario, the author of Choke, Sian Beilock, PhD, recommends a simple writing exercise. By listing what worries you about a test the most, you ease the negative effects of test-taking anxiety. The experiment showed a 5 percent increase in the test scores of students who participated in the exercise compared to the ones who did not.
Diagrams, flow charts, and mnemonic devices are tools that you can use to improve your memory recall. These fall under the category of visual learning. Ashworth College previously identified visual learning as one of three primary styles of learning, with auditory and tactile being the others. Such tools help you simplify and summarize information so you can compress them into visual aids which are known to increase learning efficiency.
Sherlock Holmes, one of the most clever literary figures of all time, goes into what he calls his “mind palace” to solve crimes. While the extent of this memory technique is amplified for dramatic effect, you can still employ a similar method of creating mental associations when trying to improve your memory. Think of your memory as a palace with many distinct rooms, and as you open each door, ‘place’ a chunk of information for you to revisit later on. The mind is essentially making mental connections and context that will help jog your memory.
Procrastinating and then cramming is the worst thing you can do for your grades—yes, even with an online school! Cramming only works to familiarize you with information, but not embed it in the mind for recall. You’re here to learn! Maryville University highlights the value of spacing out review sessions as you work through your online classes so you’ll be better prepared for upcoming exams. Also, note that if you cram, the knowledge you’ve acquired is not likely to stick for long.
Many of us think that multi-tasking is the only way to get things done. However, multi-tasking has been debunked by researchers over and over as an efficient productivity tool. Very Well Mind shares different studies that support this idea, explaining that switching in between tasks actually loses time and generates more distractions in the process. When studying, it’s best to allot time periods; say an hour, for a specific subject, then move on to the next.
The best way to test whether you understand a particular topic is to try to teach what you’ve learned to someone else. It forces you to organize your thoughts into a coherent structure as opposed to stuffing your brain with information. By conveying the ideas to someone else, you internalize a topic more and deepen your understanding of it.
Constantly quiz yourself on important concepts and key notes. This results in better memory retention and, therefore, better academic performance.
Nick Mitchell is an online blogger who writes about education.