No matter how many hours I spent re-reading physics principles, I couldn’t keep the equations straight. Like many students, I was going at it wrong. Reviewing course notes is the most popular study approach (in a recent Student Health 101 survey, 85 percent of respondents said they do this). But research shows it doesn’t necessarily work – unless you’re reviewing those notes the right way.
Fortunately, a vast field of science devoted to memory and retaining information has given us more effective strategies for academic success and some are pretty surprising.
Instead of highlighting and underlining material, which studies suggest does not boost learning or test performance, come at it actively. Here’s how:
- Ask yourself questions about your material.
- Sketch out diagrams and flowcharts.
- Use flashcards.
- Take frequent practice tests.
- No cramming.
And do not forget to
- Switch up on your studying [location].
- Grab a tea or coffee.
- Eat veggies.
- Relish your sleep and exercise.
- Practice a musical instrument.
This article, by Maria Yagoda, a 2002 Yale graduate, is reprinted from the April 2015 issue of Student Health 101.