The top key to effective exam success is ample preparation. There really is no way around it. What that means exactly and how to go about implementing it is what we will get into in this piece. The bulk of the work and preparation needs to be done weeks ahead of the exams and preferably in solitude. Hopefully you can find some useful tips that you can apply to improve your exam outcomes.
Recognising the Forgetting Curve Principle
German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus in his five-year study into the decline of memory retention over time developed the Forgetting Curve. He published the results of studies he ran on himself in 1885 proposing through a graph, how humans forget most of newly acquired information over a few days if they do not review the material periodically.
The university of waterloo states that by day 2 if you “have done nothing with the information you learned in that lecture, didn’t think about it again, read it again, etc. you will have lost 50%-80% of what you learned.” Since our brains access and assimilate a high volume of information constantly, the stuff that is not revisited is replaced with new information as it is deemed “unnecessary.”
So if you don’t want what you learned in class this afternoon deleted along with the color of the socks of your bus driver it is best to revise and revisit all that information as soon as possible after the class and as frequently as possible afterwards.
Effectively incorporating this habit into your lifestyle and study schedule will greatly alleviate your workload when exams inevitably approach.
Eliminate Last Minute Cramming
Efficiently building the review habit into your lifestyle will make this point mute because you would have covered the bulk of the learning prior to the last minute and instead of trying to learn a large amount of information in a short amount of time, you will simply be refreshing information you have already learnt and retained for the most part so it will be easier to retain.
One way to put this into practice would be after each school day you need to take some time to review what you did in each class and then at the end of the week go over the whole week of work, probably on Friday or during the weekend.
As the term progresses you repeat it for the next week, consistently reviewing the work from the previous week.
It may seem to be a lot given that you will have assignments and quizzes to work through, but it will pay off once you can successfully incorporate it into your lifestyle. What’s even better as you get more accustomed to it is that you can manage your time better.
They are a tried-and-true means of helping students with their studies. These are great because the creation of the flashcards is in itself a means of revisiting the material so this could double as part of the review at the end of the school day or school week.
It is important to keep in mind what type of learner you are to make sure that is reflected in the types of flashcards you create. The traditional flashcards work for visual and reading learners but for auditory learners perhaps voice notes might be more effective.
Chunking is a study method that involves breaking complex subjects into smaller pieces. An analogy could be a whole pizza eaten one slice at a time.
Applying that to studying will mean breaking down a chapter into sections and studying those sections individually. It could also mean breaking down a topic or concept and understanding the smaller facets before making the connection to the overall dynamic.
The core of this method is planning it out and giving each section ample time, so it is better (like with all true studying) to do it ahead of the exam and not too far from the original lesson/lecture.
If it is possible to get past exams to practice with this is invaluable as it will usually include similar concepts you can expect in yours, get you accustomed to what the style of questioning could be, as well as familiarize you with the process for this class.
It is important to emulate the conditions of the exam when practicing so you need time to yourself and to be in a quiet environment with minimal distractions so you can see if speed is something you need more work on etc.
Discuss what you’ve studied
It is helpful to have someone you can discuss the newly acquired knowledge with as this is a great way to truly process the new information. It will help you determine how well you have processed the ideas and if some more work is still needed. If the person you discuss it with can understand it, there’s a great chance you have also understood it.
Space and Time
If you are going to implement the ideas listed above, then it means you will be spending a good amount of time isolated to work. This means you will need a space that is adequate for your needs, meaning quiet and free from distractions. A library is one of the best places, but it is best to find something that works specifically to your needs, especially since it will be a place you will visit quite frequently. It could even just be a desk and chair in your room, but it needs to be ideal for you.
Hopefully some of what we went through above can be of benefit to you on your educational journey. It is important to keep in mind that the core of these techniques is consistency and time, you need to start working on these as far away from exams as possible to fully reap the benefits.
We wish you all the best in your exams and your studies and beyond!
This post was written by Abdulhakeem Yusuf. Abdulhakeem is the content writer at Southern Ontario Collegiate. He has over 6 years of professional writing experience.
If you or someone you know is interested in using these tips and attending Southern Ontario Collegiate, go here to learn how to apply.