Young woman with long brown hair, studying, tired, drinking from unmarked soda

A Method to the Madness: A Simple 3-Step Guide to Better Studying

Although studying may seem like madness, you can find a method to it. Here's one study routine broken down into three easy steps to follow for exams.

As spring begins anew and the temperature starts to increase, there’s nothing you like less than being shut inside with a textbook as a herald to impending exams. The flurry of flashcards and barraging begs for extra credit are the stuff nightmares are made of—especially with summer so close! Although your study sessions may have you stressed and feeling like you’re losing your mind, you can find a method to make order of the chaos. Here are three steps to get you started.

1. Your page-staring needs repairing

Let this be abundantly clear: If your study method includes staring at a page, it needs to be revamped. No amount of time spent looking into the soul of the word “antimetabole” will help you differentiate it from “anthimeria” on a test. To effectively encode information into your memory, you need to interact with your material. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to do this both manually and digitally. Draw a chart, create flashcards with pictures, make acronyms, compose a song, hear the information spoken to you by AI, or pretend you are giving a speech about the information and recite as much as you can from memory. It doesn’t really matter how you absorb and master the information as long as you are actively processing it.

Related: 5 Simple Ways You Can Make Studying More Fun

2. Good old-fashioned recitation

As much as you don’t want to hear this next bit of advice, it really is a lifesaver. For subjects ranging from foreign languages to math to orchestra, repeated practice or rehearsal of information is a great way to nail down difficult or abstract topics. Cognitive psychologists have found it’s much easier to retain information repeated over a long period of time than information that is “brain dumped” in a short period of time (aka cramming). So, while rote memorization is often frowned upon as shallow learning, it’s a good method to practice when trying to secure technicalities like spellings, vocabulary meanings, and even musical numbers. Just be selective about the types of information you utilize memorization for and try to break down larger topics into manageable pieces.

3. Life-saving resources for the 11th hour

Oh, high school student, why do you assume you can teach yourself the entire pre-calc curriculum in one evening? We, the masters of the witching hour, know what it’s like to feel wholly unprepared the night before an exam. That’s why we know you have to look for the right resources that can help you absorb a lot of information in a very, very short amount of time if you’ve put it off until now. The first—and perhaps best—is Quizlet. By eliminating the need for pens and notecards, you’re cutting work time in half. Quizlet’s online flashcard system is straightforward to operate and allows you to auto-define terms and upload pictures. Whether you generate your own flashcard set or search for a bank of pre-existing ones, you can then choose to study the information in different modes like spelling, matching, or fill-in-the-blank. The site even generates a test for you from the information you’ve input.

Related: Our Best Advice for Homework, Studying, and Tests

Writing a long, drawn-out conclusion here would only waste your precious study time. This guide is for quick help to adjust your study habits. So get back to work and good luck!

Are you studying the wrong way? Okay, before you panic—we just mean everyone has a best-fit learning style. Figure out yours today and study smarter!

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About Molly Weisner

Molly is a high school senior who loves all things French and Shakespeare. After four years of writing for her school paper, she has cultivated a passion for journalism that she is excited to expand to the collegiate and professional level. Besides writing, Molly enjoys babysitting, helping at her mother's art studio, and finding new, increasingly eclectic coffee shops in her hometown. She loves being surrounded by fellow bright students and can't wait to share her experience with the CollegeXpress community.


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