You know how to study—at least, you know how to study in the context of high school. But college is a whole new ball game, and you'll need to develop a new set of study skills. Luckily, we have some insider advice for taking your study habits to the major leagues.
1. Don't cram
According to a recent research study published by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), students who forego sleep to pull "all-nighters" and cram prior to a big test are more likely to perform poorly the following day. Ample sleep is critical for academic success. Students should keep a consistent study schedule leading up to their test and get a good night's sleep to ensure a great result.
2. Seek out effective study tools
Whether it's using flashcards or rereading passages in a text or e-book, all students have their own way of assessing their preparedness prior to a test. However, there are tools available that make the studying process much easier, more engaging, and more effective. (Check out the McGraw-Hill Tegrity Campus, a comprehensive lecture capture system that allows students to "relive" the lectures that aren't fresh in their minds.)
3. Jump around
A majority of students naturally review material for a test or a midterm in the order in which it was taught; that is, going through notes in chronological order. This type of studying, also known as "blocking," may be effective for some, but research out of the University of South Florida suggests otherwise. If you study "out of order," according to the research, you are more likely to retain standalone knowledge and are therefore able to recall information in a randomized way, which is how many tests are designed. Studying in sequence is restrictive, and forces you to remember content in the order in which it was studied.
4. Power down
The 21st-century student is an avid "digital multitasker," capable of answering the phone, reading and sending a text message or e-mail, and listening to music all while preparing for a test. Though this might be considered "the new normal," these distractions might—according to research by Stanford University—negatively impact a student's ability to retain and accurately recall information. While collaboration and discussion are an important part of the learning process, when it's crunch time, students should opt for an environment that is quiet and void of any digital disturbances.
5. Books, then bed
A guide on memory issued by the Academic Skills Center at Dartmouth College recommends that students should review difficult material prior to bedtime, provided that a student is mentally and physically strong before hitting the pillow. This is because challenging information is oftentimes easier to remember after a good night's rest, as the brain typically consolidates facts in your memory that are freshly accessible the next day.
Check out even more advice from Jay and become the super studier you always wanted to be in our Ask the Experts section!