For a student who is about to sit for a university exam, this would be a very good time to know the best strategies on how to ace it. The first thing you ought to bear in mind is that your ability as a student will not be measured by how many hours you have spent studying or how much information you have crammed into your head.
The latest findings by researchers in the field of psychology have shown that the most effective students are not those who spend more time studying, but those who study smart i.e., learn information in a way that enables them to remember it for longer periods.
What you need is an understanding of how your brain retains information so that you will know exactly what to do for you to get the best grades.
Students are not expected to be experts on how memory works but having some understanding of the latest research findings will definitely help them get better grades. Here are some latest research findings which every student should bear in mind before sitting for an exam:
The Testing Effect
Our memory improves when we take lots of tests. Repeatedly testing yourself to get information into long-term memory allows you to recall the information more accurately and quickly whenever required. Researchers have found that if a person takes a test before being given feedback on his or her performance, this enhances learning more than simply studying the same material over and over again.
Elaborative Interrogation (AI)
This refers to a study strategy where learners work with the information they have access to. Instead of cramming for your exams by reading your notes, you should ask yourself some questions about what you read such as:
- What is the main point of this passage?
- What can I tell my friends about it?
- Why is this important?
When you make an effort to answer such questions, you will find that your exam grades have improved.
Distributed Practice (DP)
Memorizing study materials in small doses over a long period instead of cramming everything in the night before your exam is another study strategy that has been shown to be more effective than others. However, you must space out your studying for maximum effect. According to the latest research findings, if you do so, this will ensure that you retain information longer.
Distributed practice means studying a little bit every day instead of cramming all at once.
Elaborative Encoding (EE)
Researchers have also found that students who produce good test results tend to focus more on understanding and interpreting the information they obtain as opposed to just reading, memorizing, and re-reading it over and over again until they can answer exam questions.
It is important to have a deep understanding of what you are reading, not just memorizing facts and figures. Many students study content by simply memorizing the words but this makes it difficult for them when they have to apply the information in real-life situations i.e. after they graduate.
According to the latest research findings, previewing is one of the most effective study strategies. It means reading over your notes before an exam without looking at the textbook. According to researchers, this strategy helps students ensure that they understand what they are studying and also gives them an idea of how much time it would take for them to learn their notes, before the exam.
Interleaving involves studying different kinds of tasks or concepts between each practice session. The idea here is that if you mix up practicing problems from various chapters, this will help you learn information more effectively. For example, if you are learning biology by working on mathematics problems about geometry and then later work on a physics problem, this will help you learn biology better.
This refers to the idea that learning is more effective if it involves collaboration instead of individual study. In other words, students need to cooperate with each other and share their knowledge through group work. This also means encouraging group discussion so that ideas and concepts can be discussed, questioned, and improved upon.
So next time you study for an exam, take some time to discuss the material with your classmates or try solving problems in different ways.