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02/03/2013

23 Science-Backed Study Tips to Ace a Test | Greatist


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23 Science-Backed Study Tips to Ace a Test


by Shana Lebowitz 2 months ago Happiness Tis the season to start studying. All over the country, students in high school, college, and grad school are going into panic mode, wondering how theyll manage to remember an entire semesters worth of information before the big final. Luck ily, weve got some advice to mak e those freak -outs a thing of the past. From talk ing out loud to tak ing gym break s, here are 23 ways to (gasp) get psyched about studying and ace those exams.

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Study when sleepy. Bedtime stories are for wimps. Instead of reading The Berenstein Bears, try studying for a few minutes right before hitting the hay. During sleep, the brain strengthens new memories, so theres a good chance well remember whatever we review right before dozing off[1]. (Just try not to bring work into the actual bed, since it can mak e it harder to get a good nights sleep.) And though bedtime is primo study time, it might also help to crack open the book s after crack ing open those eyes in the A.M. in the morning, the brain still has lots of room to absorb new information. Space it out. A relatively new learning technique called spaced repetition involves break ing up information into small chunk s and reviewing them consistently over a long period of time. So dont try to memorize the entire periodic table in one sitting instead, learn a few rows every day and review each lesson before starting anything new. Tell a tale. Turning the details you need to remember into a crazy story helps mak e the information

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23 Science-Backed Study Tips to Ace a Test | Greatist

more meaningful. For example, remember the order of mathematic operations PEMDAS this way: Philip (P) wanted to eat (E) his friend Mary (M) but he died (D) from arsenic (AS) poisoning. Move your butt. Research suggests studying the same stuff in a different place every day mak es us less lik ely to forget that information. Thats because, every time we move around (from the library to the coffee shop, or the coffee shop to the toilet seat), we force the brain to form new associations with the same material so it becomes a stronger memory. Switch it up. Dont stick to one topic; instead, study a bunch of different material in one sitting. This technique helps prepare us to use the right strategy for finding the solution to a problem. For example, doing a bunch of division problems in a row means every time we approach a problem, we k now itll require some division. But doing a series of problems that require multiplication, division, or addition means we have to stop and think about which strategy is best. Put yourself to the test. Quizzing ourselves may be one of the best ways to prepare for the real deal. And dont worry about break ing a sweat while trying to remember the name of the 37th U.S. president (fyi, its Nixon): The harder it is to remember a piece of information in practice mode, the more lik ely we are to remember it in the future. Write it out. Put those third-grade penmanship lessons to good use. Research suggests we store information more securely when we write it out by hand than when we type it. Start by recopying the most important notes from the semester onto a new sheet of paper. Make me wanna shout. Reading information out loud means mentally storing it in two ways: seeing it and hearing it[2]. We just cant guarantee you wont get thrown out of the library.

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Come together (right now). Group work doesnt fly with everyone, but for those who benefit from a little team effort, a study groups the way to go. Pick a few studious pals and get together every few days to review the material. Put one person in charge of delegating task s (snack duty, music selection) and k eeping the group on target with its goals. Treat yo self! A healthy holiday cook ie, a walk around the block , five minutes of tweet-time: whatever floats your boat. Knowing theres a little reward waiting for us at the end of just a few pages mak es it easier to beat procrastination while slogging through a semesters worth of notes. Drink up. Sorry, not that k ind of drink . Instead, hit the local coffee shop for something caffeine-filled; theres lots of research suggesting coffee (and tea) k eeps us alert, especially when nothing seems more exciting than the shiny gum wrapper on the library floor[3]. Take a time out. Tak ing time to plan is one of the most important sk ills a student can have. Dont just start the week with the vague goal of studying for a history exam instead, break up that goal into smaller task s. Pencil it in on the calendar lik e a regular class: For example, allot every day from 1 to 3 p.m. to review 50 years worth of info. Gimme a break . The KitKat guys said it, and so does science: Tak ing regular break s can boost productivity and improve our ability to focus on a single task [4]. For a real productivity boost, step away from the screen and break a sweat during a midday gym sesh. Work it out. Get stronger and brainier at the same time. Research has found just half an hour of aerobic exercise can improve our brain-processing speed and other important cognitive abilities. Jog a few laps around the block and see if you dont come back with a few more IQ points. Daaaance to the music. As anyone whos ever relied on Rihanna to mak e it through an all-night study session k nows, music can help beat stress. And while everyones got a different tune preference, classical music in particular has been shown to reduce anxiety and tension. So give those biology notes a soundtrack and feel at least some of the stress slide away. Nix the net. Weve all been there, facing the siren call of a friends Facebook wall on the eve of a giant exam. If a computers necessary for studying, try an app (such as this one) that block s the Internet for a short period of time and see how much more you get done. Say om . Just before staring at a piece of paper for three hours, stare at a wall for three minutes. Research suggests meditation can reduce anxiety and boost attention span. While those studies focus mostly on regular meditation, theres no harm in trying it out for a few minutes to calm pre-test jitters [5]. Doze off. When theres a textbook full of equations to memorize, it can be tempting to stay up all night committing them to memory (or trying to). But all-nighters rarely lead to an automatic A in fact, theyve been link ed to impaired cognitive performance and greater sensitivity to stress [6]. In the days leading up to a big exam, aim to get those seven to nine hours a night so sleep deprivation doesnt undo all the hard work youve put in. Own the Omegas. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in certain fish, nuts, and olive oil, are k nown for their brain-boosting potential. One study found that eating a combination of Omega-3-and Omega-6 fatty acids before an exam actually reduced test anxiety[7]. Feel free to inhale. Dusty old library again or spa day? Research has found that catching a whiff of essential oils (lik e rosemary or lavender) can help calm students down before a big exam[8]. Sk ip the frantic last-minute review and try a few minutes of aromatherapy instead. Practice your brain pose. Hardcore yogis tend to have better cognitive abilities especially attention span than folk s less familiar with Down Dog[9]. A few daily sun salutations may be all it tak es to k eep centered during finals period. Learn what works. Some people are early birds; some are night owls; some prefer to study with a pal; others need complete and total silence. Experiment to find whats most effective for you, and then

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23 Science-Backed Study Tips to Ace a Test | Greatist

What are your favorite study tips? Share in the comments below or tweet the author directly @ShanaDLebowitz.

Works Cited
1. Memory for semantically related and unrelated declarative information: the benefit of sleep, the cost of wake. Payne, J.D., Tucker, M.A., Ellenbogen, J.M., et al. Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, United States of America. PLoS One 2012; 7(3):e33079. [] 2. When learning met memory. Macleod, C.M. Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Ontario. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology 2010;64(4):227-40. [] 3. Effects of caffeine on human behavior. Smith, A. Center for Occupational and Health Psychology, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, UK. Food and Chemical Toxicology 2002;40(9):1243-55. [] 4. Brief and rare mental breaks keep you focused: Deactivation and reactivation of task goals preempt vigilance decrements. Ariga, A., Lleras, A. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States. Cognition 2011. [] 5. An update on mindfulness meditation as a self-help treatment for anxiety and depression. Edenfield, T.M., Saeed, S.A. Department of Psychiatric Medicine, Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. Psychology Research and Behavior Management 2012;5:131-41. [] 6. Circadian and wakefulness-sleep modulation of cognition in humans. Wright, K.P., Lowry, C.A., Lebourgeois, M.K. Department of Integrative Physiology, Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, 2012;5:50. [] 7. Mixture of essential fatty acids lowers test anxiety. Yehuda, S,, Rabinovitz, S., Mostofsky, D.I. Department of Psychology and Gonda Brain Research Center, Psychopharmacology Laboratory, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel. Nutritional Neuroscience 2005;8(4):265-7. [] 8. The effects of lavender and rosemary essential oils on test-taking anxiety among graduate nursing students. McCaffrey, R., Thomas, D.J., Kinzelman, A.O. Christine E Lynn College of Nursing, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL. Holistic Nursing Practice 2009;23(2):88-93. [] 9. Long-term concentrative meditation and cognitive performance among older adults. Prakash, R., Rastogi, P., Dubey, I., et al. Ranchi Institute of Neuropsychiatry and Allied Sciences, Psychiatry, Ranchi, India. Neuropsychology, development, and cognition 2012;19(4):479-94. [] 0 0 0 Share 0 Share 0 0

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