With finals just around the corner, every high school student is anticipating and dreading the last test of the school year. Everyone wants to do well on their final to bump up their grade that last step. With school and extracurricular activities taking up so much time, it seems as though studying for finals won’t be an option. Thankfully, there are many scientifically proven ways to help students study in efficient and helpful ways.
1. Don’t Cram
Many students wait until the last minute to start preparing for finals. Space out your studying over a long period of time and study for an hour or so every day. Students who cram for tests develop a false sense of security. You may think you know the curriculum for the moment, but if you only study once, the information will not be retained in your brain. Also, if you are studying for hours on end, you will easily lose focus and become bored. The Pomodoro method for efficient studying states that after 25 minutes of hard work, take a five minute break, and continue on with that pattern, taking a 15 minute break every third break.
2. Eliminate Distractions
To study effectively, it is necessary to eliminate all possible distractions so that staying focused on the material is easier. For example, you could study at the library, but if you do, make sure you sit by yourself. Some people think that studying with a friend is helpful, but you will learn the material better if you study alone. Also, make sure to either leave your phone at home, or turn on Do Not Disturb and turn off the Wi-Fi / Cellular Data. For those who enjoy listening to music while studying, make sure the music is instrumental, so there are no lyrics to distract you.
Many students stay awake into the dark hours of the morning doing last minute preparations for tests, but the lack of sleep will affect your concentration and alertness the next day. When high school students consistently receive 7-9 hours of sleep, it can be amazing how much more happy, alert, and productive they are.
4. Utilize Your Resources
If you are having difficulties with a certain topic, don’t continue to blindly struggle through and hope for the best. If you are truly having trouble in school, talk to your parents and your teacher about getting a tutor. If there is only one unit you are struggling with, talk to your teacher. Your teachers want to do the best they can to help you pass with good grades. Go in to see your teacher at lunch or during their prep period for help.
5. Repeat, and Retrieve
It is scientifically proven that if you only re-read your textbooks and notes your studying won’t lead to as effective results. The methods that psychologists strongly recommend relate directly to memory processing to improve retention of the material.
The first part of this process is to continually repeat the information you have learned. Read the textbook, take notes, rewrite your notes, write your notes as complete sentences, etc. Repeating information helps retain the knowledge in your long term memory, rather than just your short term.
The next step is to self test yourself to make sure you actually know the information. Retrieval is an important process in storing memories and information. If information isn’t retrieved then it won’t be accessible. There are two different ways to self test yourself, recognition, and recall. In the recognition method, use multiple choice answers to see if you can recognize the correct information. In recall, use fill in the blank, or short answer prompts to test your knowledge.