Examinations often have the propensity to throw students in quandary. And, there is no word to express the actual dilemma students have to deal with when it comes to deciding whether to study or not. While it is certainly not a problem for top scorers, for most of us who quiver brooding over just sitting in the examination hall, it is an unpalatable experience.
How do you get over this? Trying to figure out the most effective way to study till the last minute sitting is certainly not an option because there is a high chance you will end up unprepared. You will need to think of some smart ways to study. So forget about having to stay up all night with drowsy eyes; you don’t want to punish your mind and body the following day with the effects of sleep deprivation.
So assuming that you have an exam tomorrow or in a few hours, here are some of the best scientifically proven tips shared by AsapSCIENCE to effectively cram for your exam with minimal effort. You might not be able to learn a lot, but your short-term memory can store a shedload of information.
Use Memory Palace
The technique dates back as far as 80 BC. It involves setting up memorable places in your mind like your home and associating words you want to memorize with them.
For example, take the words “glycosis” and “Ketogenesis”. You can associate “glycosis” with your living room, and ketogenesis with the kitchen. Then you can just stroll through your house to recall each of the words.
Memory palace technique has proven to be extremely effective because our visual and spatial memory becomes highly functional when it comes to connecting information to those already existing memories. Even in one study, it was shown that participants who were asked to create memory palaces to remember the actions of insulin performed significantly better than those who did not.
It’s another memory technique to felicitate your brain to better encode complex information with ease. It involves taking the first letters of each word or product and making a sentence out of it.
For example the Krebs Cycle involves the following steps: Citrate – Isocitrate – Ketoglutarate – Succinyl – Succinate – Fumarate – Malate – Oxaloacetate.
From the first letters – CIKSSFMO, you can create a sentence as “Can I Keep Singing Song For My Oscars.”
Adding rhymes or songs to it can stimulate acoustic encoding in your brain, too, which will help you recall information better. Using mnemonic device has been proven in several studies as a way of committing information to memory.
Do Not Re-read
Most students consider re-reading as number one go-to strategy for retaining information. But from psychologist’s point of view, this is just other monotonous hoarding of information which is hardly useful.
A study had participants read on educational texts. One group was asked to reread the text, while the other group was instructed to read just once. Upon testing how well they could retain the information, the group that got to read twice performed no better than those who read it once.
The reason rereading your notes and texts serves no clear benefits is – when you read something for the first time, you consolidate your focus on what you read and hence you extract a lot of information carefully. But when you read the same thing for the second time, you process it loosely, and read it with an idea that “I have already read and understood this.”
Exams can be stressful and if stress takes control of you, it can stop you from doing your best. How? Stress can flare up adrenaline rush, which can increase your heart rate and cause you to break out in a sweat. Then after a sustained period of time, your body will undergo a delayed stress response releasing a hormone called cortisol.
Cortisol can impair memory retrieval upon binding with hippocampus – a seahorse shaped region of your brain that’s responsible for formation of memories. So it’s advisable to take up some de-stressing activities like relaxing, and taking some deep breathes.
It’s not always easy to restrain stress, and because of that you need a stress-proof study technique. But how do you achieve that? By testing yourself. Using practice tests can significantly improve memory recall and help you stand up to stressful situations.
Researchers found that when individuals, who used practice tests, were exposed to stressful situations, they performed as well as those who were not under stress. fMRI (Functional magnetic resonance imaging) studies also revealed that practice tests strengthened the hippocampus ability to connect to other regions of the brain. So even though cortisol impairs some pathways, using practice tests while studying “creates new paths to route around the blockages,” the video explains.
If you get easily distracted, working out a bit can help you get your attention and focus back. Even if you work out for at least 15 minutes, you will be able to memorize something significantly faster than when you do not exercise.
Take a short walk. It can make a difference, too. But always go for the study method that suits you best.
Metacognition refers to analysis of one’s own experience and thinking process. Studies have shown that students with poor metacognitive skills have difficulty recognizing their own strengths and weaknesses, and hence they tend to score worse on tests.
So always settle on for strategies that have worked for you before and implement them over and over again. If you think studying solo is ideal for you, then do it. Do not engage in cramming session with your friends.
Get A Good Amount of Sleep
If you have already studied, but know a little about the topic for your exam tomorrow, do not shatter your body and brain by cramming late into the night. Just go to sleep. It will help you retain your memory better.
Well, if you can spare just a few minutes of bed time, then rock yourself to sleep. Rocking helps you fall asleep more quickly, sleep more soundly, and improve memory consolidation.