Everyone has their own strategies when studying for exams, but with one week left until midterms, students tend to do one thing: cram. Instead of skimming over the whole textbook the night before, here are three alternative strategies to test out in preparation for exams in high school and beyond.
Meditating. What may seem shocking is that one of the most important parts of studying is taking a break. Taking a break can be in the form of eating healthy snacks or exercising, but one highly recommended type of break is meditation.
According to Park Tudor college counselor and meditation leader Carrie Poehlein, researchers have discovered benefits to incorporating “mindfulness meditation” into students’ study schedule. In a university study, subjects took a reading comprehension test before and after a two-week period. Those who underwent a two-week meditation course saw their scores increase from 460 to 520. Why does this happen?
“Mindfulness is focusing on the task at hand and not thinking ahead to the future or thinking back to the past,” Poehlein said. This tends to reduce anxiety and mind wandering. “Did I get this right? Should I have answered it this way? It certainly can help with diminishing some of that noise.”
Studies also indicate improved memory retention and sleep quality.
“It’s important to note that you don’t have to have any experience in meditation to ever come [to a meditation session at Park Tudor], and it can be just a nice break in your day to take a second for yourself… because if there’s one thing that we know, it’s that life will continue to be busy and we’ll continue to have to manage all of the moving parts.”
Setting a calendar. Taking a look at Park Tudor’s midterm schedule and basing a study plan off of it might also be worthwhile.
Neelum Amin, Park Tudor’s psychologist, recommends creating a calendar that includes when and what to study. This can help students reduce anxiety and “feel less lost.”
Additionally, what goes hand in hand with setting a calendar is setting goals. Students can easily access websites that calculate what grade they should strive for under Park Tudor’s 15% midterm exam weight policy. With this goal, students can prioritize certain classes and allot studying time to each class appropriately.
“The overarching part of studying is setting a goal and having a calendar of what you’re going to do when,” Amin said.
Once students organize when and what to study, they should then consider how to study. There are countless methods for reviewing material, one of which is testing yourself.
Testing yourself. As opposed to re-reading textbooks or class notes, a more effective strategy is to review and then test yourself over the content. Practicing active retrieval improves long-term recall, which is known as the testing effect.
One of the most well-known tools that utilizes the testing effect is Quizlet. Park Tudor Mental Health Awareness club president, Ellie Rogers, said, “I like to use quizlets because it gives you different methods and activities to learn the information.”
Throughout freshman, sophomore, and junior year, Rogers made a total of 60 study sets on Quizlet. “Making them as well as studying them helps me retain the knowledge better than simply looking over notes,” said Rogers.
However, this is only one of countless methods of studying. According to Amin, other useful methods include teaching a friend about a concept and watching videos about a topic through websites like Khan Academy. In fact, Amin encourages students to try out multiple methods.
“Studying and learning is a journey,” Amin said. “It takes time to figure out what is best for you and the method that you like best.”