Check out this CBC News article: The science of studying: How students can put their brains to best use
|Before you start|
1. Eat breakfast
2. Put your phone away
This should be an obvious one, but for many it isn’t. Phones can be distracting; they are linked to fomo (fear of missing out), and evidence shows that undergraduate students who spend more time texting and using social media get lower grades. In another fascinating study, researchers found that the mere sight of a phone was enough to reduce a person’s ability to focus. The implication couldn’t be clearer: out of sight really is out of mind.
|During study sessions|
3. Start early and spread it out
4. Test yourself
Leading researchers in the field of memory consider testing yourself as one of the most effective ways to improve your ability to recall information (pdf). Testing yourself also helps you check for any gaps in your knowledge. Practice papers provide a good starting point, as well as quizzing yourself at the end of your revision session.
5. Teach someone
After you have tested yourself, teach the material to someone else. This has been found to help aid memory and recall: it is known as “the Protégé Effect”. Teaching someone else requires you to learn and organise your knowledge in a clear and structured manner.
6. Think twice about using highlighters
Despite being the favourite weapon of many students tackling revision, research suggests they don’t work very well. People learn and recall information better if they connect it to other pieces of information. Highlighters don’t do this, they isolate single pieces of information. Quite often, students end up highlighting whole chunks and passages of text, which can give the appearance of having worked hard, but is of little value.
7. Don’t listen to music
Parents around the world rejoice: you now have a legitimate reason to insist that your child stops listening to Justin Bieber on repeat. Students who study in a quiet environment can recall more than those who revise while listening to music. Extroverts, and those with an exceptional ability to control their attention, are not negatively affected as much: but it doesn’t help. At best, for these students, it just doesn’t hinder them as much as everyone else.
8. Get some fresh air and exercise
You cannot work all day, every day. Nor should you. Revision has to be about quality, as well as quantity. Going outside and getting some fresh air helps people feel refreshed and better able to focus afterwards. Furthermore, doing a little bit of exercise helps people deal better with stressful situations: it reduces anxiety and increases self-esteem.
Students are encouraged to work hard and revise a lot before their exams: however, there comes a time when they need to stop and go to sleep. Knowing when can be tricky. There is a link between being a perfectionist and struggling to sleep. If a child is falling asleep within five minutes of their head hitting the pillow, they should probably be going to bed earlier. Other sleep tips include having regular bedtimes, not being on your mobile phone in bed, but if you are, turning down the backlight on it.