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New 3 Secret Study Tips to Crush Any Test in 2024

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  • Post last modified:May 26, 2024

New 3 Secret Study Tips to Crush Any Test in 2024

Tired of staring at textbooks and feeling like your brain is a leaky colander? Forget the all-nighters and ditch the endless caffeine runs. We’re here to unveil the 3 Secret Study Tips that transform you from a glazed-over student to a knowledge-absorbing machine!

These aren’t your grandma’s dusty study hacks. We’re talking scientifically proven strategies that will skyrocket your focus, boost your memory, and leave you wondering why you have ever crammed before.  So, ditch the highlighter and grab your curiosity because these secrets are about to unlock your academic potential!

Ready to dominate your exams and impress your teachers? Master the 3 secret study tips and buckle up because the learning revolution is about to begin!

Table of Contents

Let’s not leave behind that you always need an appropriate place to study. We have a fantastic blog post with a section about Creating a Productive Study Space, check it out.

P.S. Don’t worry; these tips are so good that you won’t need to share them with everyone (although seeing your friends succeed would be good. Now, let’s unlock those secrets! ️

Before Diving Into the 3 Study Tips

I always like to share valuable and practical information, but more if it is proven to help. I will share with you an interesting study done with medical students. In this study done by Bin Abdulrahman et al1, they took 625 highly effective medical students. They proceeded to apply different questionnaires to find out their study habits, and they found the 10 study habits that these students practice, and here they are:

  • Eliminate interruptions from (phones, family, and friends) that disrupt their daily work.
  • Use goal-setting to determine their most important activities.
  • The daily study hours range between 3–4 hours.
  • Study alone for knowledge retention of medical information.
  • Learn from multiple sources and invest in technology with high efficiency.
  • Contribute to the teaching of their peers.
  • Study the main lecture slides with notes when no exam is coming.
  • Study lecture slides with notes and previous exam questions when preparing for upcoming exams.
  • Maintained motivation for self-gratification and fulfillment of their family dreams.

This article is titled: Study Habits of Highly Effective Medical Students and can be read by clicking here. Now, let’s jump into these 3 Secret Study Tips.

Study Tip #1: Embrace Active Recall

3 Secret Study Tips

Let’s dive just right into the subject. The first secret is that instead of passively re-reading notes, you need to retrieve the information actively. The first mistake most people make when studying is relying too much on their short-term memory.

Even individuals with excellent memory won’t rely solely on cramming sessions, which is the salvation of such individuals on exam days. The secret consists of applying different techniques while reviewing to make the ideas and knowledge last longer. These 3 secret study tips are core to studying for a test and great for learning any subject. This could involve:

The Feynman Technique

Imagine explaining a complex concept to someone who has yet to gain prior knowledge. With this, I mean, try to explain this in your own words to yourself. Imagine that you are explaining this to a kid or a roommate who doesn’t know or understand the concept. This forces you to break down the information into its core components, identify gaps in your understanding and articulate it clearly. You will be surprised by the amounts of times that you realize that you did not understand the concept clearly and how many gaps were left blank.

Example: You’re studying photosynthesis. Write down the critical steps on a piece of paper. Now, imagine you’re explaining it to a young child. Instead of just listing facts, describe each step and its importance. Can you use real-life analogies or comparisons? 

If you need help, please revisit your notes or textbook to fill in the gaps. Even though it is simple to grasp, this technique will show results quickly and effectively if mastered. If you would like to go deeper into this technique, you may find this workbook called: The Feynman Technique Workbook: A Visual Canvas for Simplifying and Understanding Hard Concepts very useful; you may get it by following this link.

Once you feel confident, try explaining it out loud (even if just to yourself) to solidify your understanding.

Self-quizzing

Turn your notes or textbook into questions. This could be rephrasing key points, converting headings into questions, or even generating multiple-choice options in your head. Then, answer the questions without referring to the source material.

Example: You’re reading about the French Revolution. After learning about the causes, close your book and write down questions like “What were the main social injustices leading to the revolution?” or “Which key events triggered the uprising?” Then, answer them to the best of your ability. Check your answers later and identify areas needing further study.

This is an effective and even fun way of learning. A study done by Khanna et al.2 on psychology students found that self-quizzing and pop-quizzing showed that students doing this not only performed better but afterward were more receptive to being quizzed, increasing the chances of outperforming themselves in future tests. You may read this article titled: Ungraded Pop Quizzes: Test-Enhanced Learning Without All the Anxiety by clicking here.

Practice Retrieval with the Leitner System

This system uses flashcards with increasing intervals between reviews. Start by placing new information on cards with the question on one side and the answer on the other.

Review them daily. If you recall correctly, move the card to a longer review interval (e.g., weekly). If you struggle, keep it for daily review.

Example: You’re learning about historical figures. Create flashcards with their names on one side and their achievements/contributions on the other. Review daily. If you remember Napoleon’s role in the Napoleonic Wars, move the card to weekly review. If you forget Julius Caesar’s accomplishments, keep them for daily practice. Apps like Anki automate this process. 

  • Summarizing key points in your own words: Explaining concepts aloud or writing them down helps solidify understanding.
  • Testing yourself with flashcards or practice questions: Retrieving information strengthens memory pathways.
  • Explaining concepts to others: Teaching reinforces your understanding and reveals areas you need to clarify.

Remember, active recall is an ongoing process. The more you engage in it, the stronger and longer-lasting your memory and understanding will become. These are just a few starting points. Experiment, have fun, and find the best approaches for you!

Study Tip #2: Fight the “Curve of Forgetting” with Spaced Repetition

3 Secret Study Tips

Our brains naturally forget information over time. Combat this by reviewing at spaced intervals, gradually increasing the time between sessions. There is no doubt why battling back “forgetting” is at the core of the 3 secret study tips, as it is the leading cause of getting stuck or frozen on test days. Tools like spaced repetition apps or the Leitner system can help manage this effectively.

Utilize Spaced Repetition Apps

Download a dedicated app like Anki, Quizlet, or Remindo. These apps use algorithms based on the forgetting curve to automatically schedule reviews for your flashcards, ensuring optimal spacing.

Example: You’re studying French vocabulary. After creating flashcards with the word on one side and its meaning on the other, you answer the first review after 1 day. If you recall correctly, the app schedules the following review 3 days later. If you get it wrong, the app reschedules for the next day. As you keep answering, the intervals automatically adjust, focusing on words you struggle with.

Implement the Leitner System

This low-tech method uses physical flashcards and boxes labeled “1”, “2”, “3”, and “4”. Initially, place all cards in “1”. When you answer correctly, move the card to the next box, doubling the review interval. Incorrect answers send the card back to “1”.

Example: Let’s say you’re studying historical dates. Each card has a question on one side and the answer on the other. If you correctly answer “When did World War II start?”, the card goes to “2” (review in 2 days). If you miss “What was the capital of the Roman Empire?”, it returns to “1” (review tomorrow).

Create Self-Made Spaced Repetition Schedules

This method involves manually scheduling reviews based on your own understanding. Mark complex concepts for closer review and space out reviews for easier ones. Tools like Google Calendar or physical planners can help manage your schedule.

Example: You’re learning complex math equations. Mark challenging formulas for daily review. Schedule reviews for slightly easier equations every 2 days and simpler ones every 4 days. This way, you focus on complex concepts while reinforcing the easier ones before forgetting them.

Additional Secret Study Ideas:

Be honest with your self-assessments: Don’t guess just to move cards faster. Accurate recall strengthens memory.

  • Personalize your intervals: Some topics require shorter or longer intervals depending on their difficulty.
  • Combine with other effective techniques: Spaced repetition works best alongside active recall and interleaving.

Remember, consistency is key! Adopt the method or style that matches your learning style and stick with it for long-term benefits.

Study Tip #3: Make Connections and Interleaves

3 Secret Study Tips

Don’t study subjects in isolation. Look for connections between different topics, how they build on each other, or even draw analogies to real-world experiences. This creates a richer understanding and strengthens memory links. Additionally, interleaving or switching between different subjects within a study session can boost performance compared to focusing on one at a time.

Mix Up Subtopics within a Single Subject

Instead of studying all of Chapter 3 in your history book at once, break it down and interleave subtopics. For example, focus on “The Rise of Napoleon” for 20 minutes, then switch to “The French Revolution” for 20 minutes.

Example: Imagine studying psychology. Allocate 30 minutes to the “Developmental Psychology” chapter. Dedicate the first 15 minutes to critical stages of development. Then, switch to “Learning Theories” for the next 15 minutes, exploring concepts like classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Return to “Developmental Psychology” and analyze how these learning theories apply to different stages.

Combine Subjects with a Common Theme

Find a theme that connects seemingly unrelated subjects. For example, focus on “Revolutions” in French and American history. Or, explore the theme of “Sustainability” in biology and economics.

Example: You’re studying “Climate Change” in geography and the “Industrial Revolution” in history. Instead of studying each in isolation, analyze how the Industrial Revolution contributed to climate change. Research and compare the environmental impacts of different inventions from the era. Discuss historical arguments for and against industrialization in the context of modern climate concerns.

Create Your Own Interleaving Practice

Design practice questions or activities that require applying knowledge from different subjects. This strengthens connections and deeper understanding.

Example: You’re learning about “Shakespearean Comedies” in literature and “Renaissance Art” in art history. Create a project where you analyze how comedic elements are depicted in specific Renaissance paintings or sculptures. Alternatively, write a short skit inspired by a Shakespearean comedy, but this time set in a Renaissance context.

Remember:

  • Adjust the time spent on each topic based on your needs and difficulty.
  • Interleave at multiple levels within chapters, subjects, or themes.
  • Feel free to get creative and find connections that interest you!

By interleaving effectively, you can transform your studying from passive memorization to active engagement, leading to deeper understanding and better knowledge retention. Experiment and find what works best for you!

Additional Studying Ideas to Consider:

Young Student Studying
  • Schedule regular study sessions: Consistency is critical to effective learning.
  • Choose a distraction-free environment: Minimize clutter and silence interruptions.
  • Get enough sleep and exercise: A healthy body supports mental focus and memory.
  • Break down large tasks into manageable chunks: Avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  • Seek help when needed: Don’t hesitate to ask teachers, tutors, or classmates for clarification.

By incorporating these proven tips and actively exploring different studying styles or memorizing reinforcers, you can discover the most effective way to study and maximize your learning success.

References:

  1. Bin Abdulrahman, K. A., Khalaf, A. M., Bin Abbas, F. B., & Alanazi, O. T. (2021). Study Habits of Highly Effective Medical Students. Advances in medical education and practice12, 627–633. https://doi.org/10.2147/AMEP.S309535
  2. Khanna, M. M. (2015). Ungraded Pop Quizzes. Teaching of Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1177/0098628315573144

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