Traditional studying not working for you?
Being a psychology major during all of undergrad, I was always aware of various study habits such as: space repetition and chunking – and how effective those were over cramming (which I still ended up doing). Fast forwarding to four years, and hundreds of forgotten exam material later due to ineffective studying I landed up at Brainscape as a cognitive Science Intern researching the very same study habits and decided to apply them into my Master’s program now- and my student life has definitely gotten better ever since!
These were a few things I have noticed through my individual application from a few of Brainscape’s tactics:
Improving motivation and planning
I started using more online resources. Before, I used to be all about having hard copies of handouts and tangible textbooks. I used to be the people you would see in the library who used to take over a table in the library with all of my various papers/ books from all of my classes.
I saved a lot of money on textbooks and found online versions of them through the school library. I was able to save these readings into my laptop and my phone and study anywhere on the go without wifi!
This forced me to actually be more active about studying. It’s usually a 30 minute commute home by the subway, so I create that allotted time as a study session for perhaps one of my classes. So I feel like I have one less thing to do once I get home.
Getting things done so I can have more free time to binge that new Netflix series is my motivation.
Automated Study Reminders to limit cognitive load
Right after class, I would go to the library and spend hours upon hours there, not quite accomplishing anything. I would look at the material usually a few days before an exam and not know where to start. So to cope with the overwhelming feeling, as a consequence, I would do the opposite of studying, I would procrastinate and actively avoid studying.
Now, I start creating a study schedule a week or two before an exam. I look at the material from the syllabus and then program them onto my phone, usually segmenting them into topics leading up to a cumulative review of the material. When it’s time to study, I usually get a notification with what topics to study and for how long.
I no longer have to stress about cramming a whole semester’s worth into 2 days, when I can comfortably digest the information in a more effective way over time.
Providing Variable Rewards
Usually a professor tells you how long you should be studying for an exam. Suppose the professor says you should be studying 15 hours for the exam to get an “A.” Looking back, I used to study 15 hours the day before (Yikes!)
If a professor says that studying 15 hours for an exam would get you an “A”, why not break that down into a week or two? Setting up a timer with the cumulative time and everytime you study an hour or two, you complete that goal.
This goes back to being motivated, who doesn’t like a great countdown?
Highlighting Previous Errors to Intensify Reflection
If I didn’t understand a concept, I would stick to that particular concept and that can take hours at a time. Jumping to the now, I just simply flag the material I don’t understand, but move onto the next topic, and return back once I feel confident about the rest of the material. I have saved a lot of time on studying from this method.
All in all, I’m still not a STAR student, but I definitely became a BETTER one by using these tactics. Being a student is tough, but with the right mindset, everything seems possible – especially not cramming an hour before an exam!
Written by: Anisha Pal
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