We've all been there.

You've known about the test for weeks but you just don't feel ready.

Byte Author Uploaded Image

That exam isn't just testing your knowledge, it's also testing your studying skills. Like any skill, we can always find ways to improve.

  1. Stay motivated by knowing what you are trying to accomplish.

  2. Understand why studying is so challenging (the forgetting curve!).

  3. Space out your practice in order to better remember and retain what you need to for the big day.

Motivation

We become more invested in something when we clearly understand how it will help us.

Flaticon Icon Set clear goals to keep yourself motivated and focused on the bigger picture.

"Acing this test will improve my GPA and help me get into the program I want next year."

"Getting above 80% will allow me to take a higher level class next semester that I am really interested in."

Flaticon Icon Commit to your goal by writing it down. Share your goal with a friend, classmate or coworker. When we say our goals out loud, we can hold ourselves accountable. 

The Forgetting Curve

Have you ever learned an interesting fact or idea that you seemed to immediately forget?

Memory science estimates we forget more than:

  • 50% of new content in one hour

  • 66% by the next day

  • 90% by the end of the month

Clearly we need to take intentional steps to better recall information.

Spaced Retrieval And Recall

Avoid memory overload: cramming for a test for hours can feel productive but the forgetting curve is real.

We can’t remember that much at once and all that time spent cramming becomes wasted time.

Byte Author Uploaded Image Instead, study in blocks, with rest between study sessions. Think about two steps forward (reviewing new content) and one step backward (retrieving old content).

This does not mean reread, retrieval means practicing finding the information in our memory and bringing it out.

The more you practice retrieval, spaced out, the faster your brain is able is recall it again when you need it.

Quiz

Retrieval practice! After learning new information, about how much do we forget in 1 day?

Summary

Before you start to study for your next exam, first take a step back and think about the skill of studying.

  1. Goals hold us accountable and keep us motivated. Tell a friend why you want to ace that test or write it down in a place where you'll see it.

  2. Remembering is hard! Like exercising to build muscle, you need to practice this skill.

  3. The goal of studying is to retrieve information and bring it out when you need it. You need to practice retrieving the information as you study and practice over time!

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This Byte has been authored by

SS

Sam Schmoker

International Educator | Academic Advisor