What’s the science behind it?
You often feel the illusion of mastery when you go through chapter questions and get into the groove of repeatedly applying the same concepts. But in reality, this method doesn’t fully prepare you with the critical thinking skills you need for your test to choose the correct concepts and solutions. It forces you to actively retrieve your knowledge and figure out how to apply it, ultimately improving your long-term memory.
Switch between different topics and types of questions when you study to train the critical thinking and application skills you need for tests.
3. Make concepts meaningful to you
When you copy vocabulary, highlight, or re-read, you don’t deeply think through the material. As a result, the information only sticks in your brain for a short period of time.
The better way to study is to make what you’re studying personally meaningful to you by using deep processing methods. Here are some of them:
A recent Canadian study found that drawing is one of the most powerful memory tools because it gives your brain multiple ways to think about the material in your own way. Drawing concept maps, infographics, or even comic strips can do wonders for your memory.
b) Create your own exam questions
By thinking through what your instructor may ask, you will review the key concepts and terms you need to know. If you enjoy studying with friends, you can trade these questions with each other for extra practice!
Make sure to take the test without checking your notes or textbook. Give partial answers when you're unsure and set a time limit. Creating a real test environment will give you a more accurate sense of your preparedness.
c) Find examples in your own life
Finding personal meaning in what you learn can not only improve your learning but also make studying more interesting and insightful. Research has shown that developing associations is more effective than creating new memories. Next time you study, take notes in your own words and ask yourself: "How does this apply to my own life?"
d) Teach someone
"While we teach, we learn," said the Roman philosopher Seneca. Scientists today call this the protégé effect. To teach others, you yourself must fully understand and internalize the information. It also requires you to actively retrieve information.
What’s the science behind it?
Deep processing methods require you to let new information truly sink into your brain instead of rehearsing it in a repetitive, shallow way. The more you use detailed, intensive thinking, the more meaningful connections you make with the material, and the more durable its trace in your memory.
Re-reading, highlighting, and copying down definitions don’t make information stick in your brain. Instead, use deep processing study methods to think deeper about the content and make it personally meaningful to you.
4. Assess what you know or don’t know
If you ask your friends to predict their score before taking an exam, they will most likely make predictions that are higher than their actual score. That is because many students don't recognize their knowledge gaps and are overconfident about how prepared they are.
Next time you do practice tests, take note of what you get wrong. This way, you can find any trends in areas you may still be struggling with and figure out the best way to strengthen them.
Why does it work?
Metacognition means "thinking about thinking". It helps you be self-aware about your learning. Evidence suggests that having poor metacognitive skills can actually cause poor performance because you don’t choose the right study methods and don’t gauge how long they need to study for.
Self-test and get feedback to accurately assess how prepared you are in order to decide which study strategy is best for your needs.
The question now remains: How can I actually apply these strategies? What resources can I use?
While there are thousands of educational tools out there that can help you, it can get overwhelming trying to use a million different apps and websites. If your instructor has chosen to use an interactive all-in-one eTextbook called Revel, you’re in luck!
This enhanced eTextbook has practice quizzes and interactive videos within the text, flashcards to get your interleaving on, and—the student-favorite—an audiobook function. It was designed based on decades of learning science research to help you develop good study habits.
No matter how you choose to study, learning effective study practices will not only benefit you all throughout university but also help you achieve your future goals more easily and efficiently.