14th of February is nearing, which means only one thing – love is in the air! In the hope that you’ll make us your helpful, friendly Valentine, and as our very public display of affection, we give you some fantastic tips on how to study efficiently.
Let me ask you – exactly how many sleeps do you have left until the end of term? I bet quite few.
How many cups of coffee have you had tonight? Lost count, haven’t you…
Wouldn’t it be splendid if you could wake up one morning with no worries in your head and all of your work finished the night before? Indeed, it would!
This Valentine’s Day RefME is sending loads of love your way and sharing our 7 tips on how to study efficiently.
Tip 1 – Schedule
It’s a dreadful word, I know, but it’s a magical concept.
Need to study? Map it out. Take it one week at a time and section off time for studying, reviewing, napping (of course) and breaks every day. Don’t forget to factor in some free time to give yourself a little breather. Think of it as a reward for studying so diligently.
You might struggle the first couple days, but very soon you’ll be breezing through your study materials with incredible efficiency.
Tip 2 – Review
Don’t just chuck your books and notes the minute a class ends.
Your mind is still buzzing with all the knowledge the professor imparted to you. This is the perfect time to review both materials discussed in class, and what’s on for the next one.
By reviewing your classes soon after participating in them you’re nailing down all those bits of information that would otherwise escape your long-term memory (Shiffrin and Atkinson, 1969).
When it’s time to study for exams, you’ll already know a big chunk of the information you will need. That’s a big fat advantage, if you ask me!
Tip 3 – Practice & Repeat
It’s easy to just memorise a crib sheet, but when you go to the exam you could find yourself unable to remember a damn thing!
That’s because you don’t really know the material.
Don’t just memorise and go top to bottom. Once you have the main facts down, start practicing – develop connections between separate items, recite back-to-front, jumping from one part to a completely different one and try to find your way. Heck, if you are up for it, ask a friend to quiz you backwards!
Repeat a couple of times and change things up each time to keep you on your toes. You’ll eventually find yourself being able to answer questions in any order.
Tip 4 – Sleep
That’s right, sleep. There have been a multitude of studies on the role of sleep plays in memory retention, and they all agree – it’s the best thing you can do when studying (Peigneux et al., 2001).
Instead of cramming day and night, set up a nap schedule – an interval between study sessions where you get a little shut-eye. And no, sleeping at night doesn’t count. In fact, if you cram for two days straight and then go for a ‘recovery sleep’, you are far more likely to not remember all that precious information (Gais, 2006).
By scheduling a little shut-eye you’ll find yourself remembering a whole lot more without having to spend sleepless nights cramming.
Tip 5 – Atmosphere
I know you’d love to stay in your comfy PJs, snuggled under a blanket, with an open packet of crisps by your side while you memorise those pesky formulas.
Guess what? You’ll sooner find yourself asleep or IM’ing your friends than actually studying. So get out of bed, leave your room and find a quiet place to study.
The library is a great choice – scores of study material, lighting optimised for reading and the general feel of wisdom hovering all around you. However, you won’t be the first one with that idea, so try to look for a more secluded spot in the library. Also consider looking around campus and nearby cafes for a quiet corner – find a place you feel is both comfortable and away from distractions.
By doing that you will be able to focus on your study materials when you need to. And when you’re done – you’re done! You’ll pull away from the ‘study spot’ and be able to actually relax.
Tip 6 – Focus
This seems like an obvious one, but keep reading.
Did you just go through a bad breakup? Have a splitting headache? Just really don’t feel like studying?
That’s okay! Don’t force it.
I know that many tend to just push through, gritting their teeth, to just get it done. True, sometimes it’s necessary. However, more often than not, you’ll find that if you aren’t feeling good about studying then you won’t actually get anywhere, even if you try.
And that’s alright. Let yourself deal with whatever is bothering you, get it off your mind and then get back to your books. Without other things occupying your mind, you’ll be able to get through your study goals quicker. Accomplishing what you’ve set out for yourself will also make you feel better. It’s always a great motivator for your next exam session.
Tip 7 – Tools
Studying might seem like a daunting task and you are not alone in this! However, there are plenty of fantastic aids that will make your life so much easier. Take a look at our selection of Top 5 Apps apps to help you write your Essays in 2016 if you don’t know where to start.
With all the love, and amazing tips, coming from your friends here at RefME, we’re absolutely certain that you’ll find studying much easier.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Davis, R.L., Cervantes-Sandoval, I., Berry, J.A. and Chakraborty, M. (2015) Sleep facilitates memory by blocking Dopamine neuron-mediated forgetting. Available at: http://www.cell.com/cell/pdf/S0092-8674(15)00577-2.pdf (Accessed: 12 February 2016).
Diekelmann, S. and Born, J. (2010) ‘The memory function of sleep’, 11. doi: 10.1038/nrn2762.
University of Chicago (2016) Long and short term memory. Available at: https://counseling.uchicago.edu/page/long-and-short-term-memory (Accessed: 11 February 2016).
Lucas, B., Gais, S. and Born, J. (2006) ‘Sleep after learning aids memory recall’, Learning & Memory, 13(3), pp. 259–262. doi: 10.1101/lm.132106.
McLeod, S. (2010) Long term memory. Available at: http://www.simplypsychology.org/long-term-memory.html (Accessed: 11 February 2016).
Nolting, P.D. (2002) Winning at math: Your guide to learning mathematics through successful study skills. 4th edn. Bradenton, FL: Academic Success Press.
Peigneux, P., Ca, S., Laureys, Delbeuck, X. and Maquet, P. (2001) ‘Sleeping brain, learning brain. The role of sleep for memory systems’, REVIEW NEUROREPORT, 12, pp. 959–4965.
Mind Tools (no date) Review strategies: Committing learning to long-term memory. Available at: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newISS_05.htm (Accessed: 11 February 2016).
Shiffrin, R.M. and Atkinson, R.C. (1969) ‘Storage and retrieval processes in long-term memory 1’, Psychological Review, 76(2), pp. 179–193.