Are Your Study Techniques Effective?

Most students hope that their study habits are effective. This is a guide to help these students who are concerned about everyday high school tests and the SAT.

Many students are not aware that their study habits are inefficient and will not benefit them on the day of the exam. When studying, most students may also be texting from their phones, listening to music, or watching TV. However Danae Blodgett ’15 says, “I focus best when I put away my phone and turn off my music and any other distractions.”

To best absorb the information, it is essential to teach and re-teach yourself the material. According to Katie Brennan ’15, “If I can explain the information back to myself, then I know I understand the material.” Nonetheless, teaching yourself the information is no easy feat. Memorization is the hardest way to study: it is tedious and time consuming. Once the student feels like he or she grasps the material, then he or she can try testing themselves and learning from their mistakes. According to a recent study in the journal Science, “Retrieval Practice Produces More Learning than Elaborative Studying with Concept Mapping”, students who read an article and took a test on the material retained close to 50% of the information two weeks later. This percentage was significantly higher than the percentage retained by students who studied repeatedly, but never took an exam.

Resting your brain is also essential to doing well. Jenny Keenan ’15 explains, “I always do better on tests when I get plenty of sleep the night before. That way I am alert and focused throughout the period.” Pulling an all-nighter will disturb your memory for a couple of days.

Before you get your sleep, it is imperative to study the most difficult and important information. While you sleep, your subconscious will be hard at work thinking about the information you just fed it.

The day of the test, have a hearty breakfast. “I eat two pieces of toast with strawberry jam. That usually keeps me full,” shares Colleen Edwards ’15. Dieticians recommend peanut butter, bananas, or eggs for a filling breakfast. It is good to have a breakfast full of complex carbohydrates, protein, and fiber, which will take much longer to digest and therefore you won’t feel hungry.

Lastly, it is impossible to do well on a test when you are nervous. You must remind yourself that you know the material. Alex Zuk ’15 divulges, “If I am really stressed about a large homework assignment I always think: I will still be alive when it’s over.” Looking at the bigger picture when you are about to take a test is the best way to calm your nerves. Now you are ready to do your best.