After each class, you should have fleshed out your notes and rewritten them in a neat, organized format. Now, it’s time to take your re-done notes and write them once again. This time, however, your goal is to condense them down to only the most important material. Ideally, you want your rewritten notes to fit on just one or two sheets of paper. These sheets should be your main study resource during test preparation.
Early in the week, make a long outline that includes many of the details from your notes. Rewrite it a few days later, but cut the material in half. Shortly before the test, write it one more time; include only the most important information. Quiz yourself on the missing details.
Another way to quiz yourself is to make flashcards that you can use for practice written tests. First, read the term on the front side. Encourage yourself to write out the definition or details of that term. Compare your written answer with what’s on the back of the card. This can be extra helpful when prepping for an entrance exam like the GRE, though there are a growing number of schools that don’t require GRE scores for admission.
There are additional things you can do to practice test-taking. For example, crack open your book, and solve problems like the ones you expect to see on the test. Write out the answers to essay questions as well. There may be suggested essay topics in your textbook.
Although you shouldn’t pull all-nighters, studying right before bedtime can be a great idea. Sleep helps cement information in your brain. Studies show that you’re more likely to recall information 24 hours later if you went to bed shortly after learning it. Right before bed, read through your study sheet, quiz yourself on flashcards or recite lists of information.
If you want to remember information over the long haul, don’t try to cram it all in during one sitting. Instead, use an approach called spaced repetition:
Sometimes, you just need to make information silly in order to help it stick in your brain. To remember a list of items or the particular order of events, make up a humorous story that links those things or words together. It doesn’t necessarily need to make sense; it just needs to be memorable.
Studying the same information in multiple places helps the details stick in your mind better. Consider some of the following locations:
To really understand a subject, you have to know the words that relate to it. Vocabulary words are often written in textbooks in bold print. As you scan the text, write these words down in a list. Look them up in a dictionary or in the glossary at the back of the book. To help you become familiar with the terms, you could make a study sheet with the definitions or make flashcards.
Active studying is as simple as asking questions before, during, and after study time. Not only does this help to give your study session direction, but it also helps keep you on track and reflect on how to improve for your next study session! Questions to ask yourself before you study: