How to Study Like a Pro

December 14, 2015

Study Group Students
Photo by UBC Library

10 Things You Can Do to Study More Effectively

Developing good study habits isn’t easy, but a solid study plan can make preparing for any test a lot less daunting.

1. Start early

Don’t wait until the last minute to start preparing for your test. While cramming may help you get a decent score, you’re not likely to remember much after the test is over. If you want to commit what you’re studying to your long-term memory, spacing out your study time is the way to go.

2. Know the format

Find out as much as you can about the format of the test before you take it. How many questions will there be? How many points will each be worth? Will partial credit be given? Will it be multiple choice? The more you know, the better you can prepare, and you won’t have any surprises on test day.

3. Know the material

Knowing what the test will cover is just as important as knowing how it will be formatted. Is it a cumulative exam that will cover everything you’ve learned, or will it be focused in a specific area? Find out exactly what you are expected to know and get sample questions so you know what to study.

4. Organize your notes

If they’re not already organized, take a moment to get your notes in order, whether it be chronological or by topic. This will make things easy to find and will also help you see if you’re missing any notes you need.

5. Get help from your classmates

If you’ve missed a few classes, you’ll probably want to check in and make sure you’ve got all the important stuff. Talk to your classmates and see if they can help. You may even be able to form a study group to maximize your efforts. And don’t forget: your instructor is a great resource, too. 

6. Review old assignments

Going over past work is another way to find out what you’ll need to know for your test. Chances are you’ll see questions on the same things on test day. Take a look at what you missed. Those are the things you’ll want to study.

7. Find your gaps

Pinpoint any areas where you feel less than confident and focus your study time there. There's no use studying what you already know, right?

8. Remove all distractions

It's easy to get caught up in your latest email or Facebook notification, so close out those tabs and put your phone away (unless you need it). If you can't put it away, silence your notifications so you can really focus, and get rid of anything else that may distract you. Give yourself a 5 minute break every 30 minutes to avoid mental fatigue.

9. Don’t just reread it

Simply reading the material over and over again is not the best way to help yourself remember it. Try other memory enhancing tools like saying it out loud, teaching it to someone else, or drawing diagrams.

10. Take a practice test

Take a practice test under test-like conditions — same time of day, location (if possible), amount of time — to gauge your knowledge and help you beat those test day jitters. Can’t find a practice test? Then make your own! Try to anticipate what kind of questions will be asked.

Do you have any other study tips you’d like to share? Leave them in the comments below.

Thandiwe Ogbonna is a professional tutor with a sincere passion for learning. She loves to help her students reach their full potential in a supportive and encouraging environment.

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