How I actually study for exams

Study guides, picture cards, practice problems, power naps, and groups study get me through exams. Will they help you? As Trimester I exams are upon us, I know that some people are struggling to find a study pattern that works for them. Here’s how I study, including what works and doesn’t from personal experience.

 1.   Study Guides & Pictures  

I always start by making a detailed study guide from my notes and hard questions on tests and quizzes. After having read through all the material that will be on the exam in order to make my outline, I have a pretty good idea of what concepts I understand and what things I need to focus most on. This leads me to my favorite part of studying, making picture cards. This is the same concept as flashcards, except I throw a funny drawing and word association on the back as well. An added bonus to making funny picture cards is that if that topic comes up on the exam, it always makes me smile, which relieves stress during the exam.

2.   Practice, Practice, Reward, Repeat

At this point I have a better hold on the material, but just to make sure, I have to do practice problems. Although this is the part where procrastination starts taking hold, I trick myself into studying by throwing in laundry breaks, food incentives, and, yes, peer pressure.

3.   Power Nap!

I also take power naps for 2 to 7 minutes once I’ve completed a section of studying. I have worked down the timing of these naps to optimize rejuvenation and productivity. Also quick naps instead of phone time or Netflix breaks make the transition back to work easier for me.

4.   Putting Heads Together

Once I’ve gotten a better grasp of the information on my own, I love a good group study session, particularly in the Library or the Student Center conference rooms where we can write all over the walls.

5.   Ask for Help

Of course I check in with teachers leading up to my exam. One of the most helpful things to do is to explain a confusing concept back to the teacher to see if I am right. I also think that writing practice problems for yourself during Conference Period and doing them in front of the teacher is great.

If you have a favorite study technique, keep it up! But if you’re looking for a change, I hope you try out some of the things that have worked for me.

Image source: stock photography from the Nalanda Bodhi website.

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