Many otherwise good students didn’t do as well as they had hoped on their midterm exams. They couldn’t remember the quantities of material, or they couldn’t pull isolated facts and procedures together and use them in a coordinated way.
What’s the point of working so hard to learn, a student may wonder, if the material is just going to fall out of my head?
The brain holds onto information which it has used actively and repeatedly. Research shows that the way to get information to stick in long-term memory is to keep quizzing yourself, using flash cards and practice tests.
Try these study strategies to hold on to what you learn and be ready for final exams in May or June:
- Study a bit every day. Cramming might get you through a test, but what you “learned” will then quickly fall away, leaving you to study the very same stuff all over again before the final exam. You should be studying all along, by taking some time every day to rework a few math problems from old tests or homework, rewrite a paragraph from an essay that was returned to you, flip a few flashcards from a previous chapter, etc.
Study the same way you’ll be tested. Rereading notes and highlighting aren’t great study strategies, because on the test you’ll need to retrieve and apply the material, not just read it. Study by using flash cards, working math problems on paper, and writing short answers and paragraphs, because these methods are similar to what you’ll need to do on exam day.
- Strive to understand. Your brain is very practical, and it doesn’t hold on to material it doesn’t understand (because what good is that?) So, make sure you take the time to understand what you are learning; this is hard at first when you know very little, but it makes learning easier and easier as you become more knowledgeable.
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