Study Methods: Memorizing Material & Learning What to Study

Whether you’re in college or elementary school, it seems like there’s always an exam, test, or quiz to study for. You’re constantly taking in information on a ton of different subjects, from learning the names of the Chinese dynasties to all the bones in the human body. It’s no surprise that with all of the data we have to take in nowadays that studying can become a bit difficult. Here’s a series of study methods to help you memorize material and filter out what’s important from what’s useless information the teacher gives to kill time.

Rewrite your notes again (and again, and again)

Just taking notes in class once can be an effective way of remembering information from class, but learning it all is a whole different story. Rewriting your notes can help mentally reinforce the information, and can allow you to make your notes decipherable (unlike the fast scribble of notes you have from class). Becoming more familiar with the material is a sure-fire way to be prepared for an upcoming test. In fact, researchers reported that 80% of new information gained from a lecture or presentation can be recalled if reviewed within 24 hours of learning it, so start rewriting your notes the same day!

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Get Colorful! (but don’t get crazy)

Your favorite blue or black ball-point pen may be reliable in getting everything jotted down during a lecture, but adding a bit of color to your notes can help beautify dull information and will help you distinguish one important subject from another. Also, it can make skimming your notes 10 minutes before a test more efficient. By highlighting the important parts of a sentence or definition, your eyes are naturally drawn to the bright colors and your brain is more receptive to the information that leaps out from the page. Using multiple highlighters can be a bonus– assign a purpose to each color: yellow for important stuff, green for what you don’t understand, orange for headings of a section, purple for the REALLY important stuff, etc. However, don’t go wild with the coloring; this study method can potentially turn notes into an illegible rainbow.

Figure out if you study better in a group or alone

Maybe after studying your notes, you still have a few questions, so studying in a group is a great way to solve this problem. Chances are that out of 3 or 4 people, someone will know the answer. Another benefit a group study is can be that you won’t get off task or start surfing the web out of boredom since other people will be there to make sure you stay focused(but getting off topic during a discussion is very possible, so be wary). Even though a group study session is a great study method for many people, studying alone can be a reliable manner of studying as well. Giving both ways a try is the only way to figure out which works best for you, so the earlier you discover the best way to study, the better.

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So now that you know how to study, you’ll need to know what to study! It’s a fact that tests are designed so that you don’t know what the questions will be, but 5 things will give you a good indication on what to study.

1. Review past tests. Does your teacher get all their questions from titles, footnotes, or only the first 3 pages of each chapter? Figuring this out is the key to unlocking a world of good grades.

2. Ask the teacher. Although they won’t give you the answers, they may give you hints as to where you might find them. Probing your teacher about whether to study from your notes or from the textbook will allow you to get a better idea of what is going to be tested on.

3. Talk to students who already took the class. Who knows the tests better than the students who already took them? Past students can give you helpful tips on how the teacher operates and can even give you their notes from last year.

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4. Look in the textbook. Often times, headings and subheadings concisely state the main points for a topic, so this resource is a dependable place to discover what to study.

5. Read your notes! The teacher obviously lectured on certain things for a reason, so you should always study notes you take during class; it can’t hurt.

Whatever subject you’re trying to study for, these study methods are great ways to memorize and learn what you need to know for a test. Studying can be a total drag, but knowing exactly what to study can make it more worthwhile and can help you see better results with your test scores.