10 Study Tips for Earning an A on Your Next Exam – College Info Geek

November 17, 2019 0 By Kody Olson


Today’s video
is brought to you by the French
philosopher Voltaire, to whom is attributed
the aphorism “Perfect is the enemy of good.” It’s a good reminder
for this video because I’m gonna give you 10 specific
tips that you can use today to both prepare for your
exams more effectively and also perform
better on those exams when you’re actually
taking them. The thing to
remember here though is that 10 tips are a
lot to take in at once, and if you tried to execute
on all 10 of these at once you’re not gonna
have good results. So when you get to
the end of this video pick one or two that you
think can help improve your specific
test-taking abilities, and then try to put
those into action. Let’s get started. The first tip has to
do with the few minutes immediately leading
up to your exam, and it’s to do a test
preparation ritual. Now in my mind this ritual
has two specific components. Number one, if you’re
prone to test anxiety, then the first thing
you’re gonna want to do is pull out a piece
of paper and write out the specific things
that are worrying you. As we talked about in my
video on test anxiety, a study done at the
University of Chicago actually proved that
students who did this got better grades
on their tests. Now the next component
to the ritual is to brain dump any
important information that you have loaded
into your brain right now onto a piece of scratch paper, or the margins of
the test if you can. This includes formulas,
measurement conversions, and other important
facts that you’re afraid you might forget
during the test, but that you think
you might need. The second tip is
to be on the lookout for later questions
in the test that might provide insight or answers
to earlier questions. I’ve actually noticed
tests that I’ve taken in previous classes
where this has happened. Later on in the test
I’ll find a question that references something
in an earlier question, and it might actually
flat out give the answer. To put this tip in
more general context, simply go back and
look over your answers after you’re done with the test. That way anything
that references anything else in the test
is going to catch your eye. Tip number three is to
do a cheat card exercise. Now in some classes a
teacher might let you bring in a cheat sheet,
or an index card, filled with notes to
assist you on the test. But usually this
isn’t gonna happen. Still, go through the exercise
of making this cheat sheet. Going through the exercise
of forcing yourself to try to condense all the
material you’re studying for the test into one little
summary is gonna help you learn the most important
parts of the material. Even if you’re not
allowed to bring that resulting cheat
card into the test, you’ve now gone through
an exercise that has really efficiently encoded
the information in your brain. Now your brain basically
has that cheat card stored inside of it, and
this is just a simple way to exploit the
fact that the brain learns best through
active recall. It learns best when
you have to work hard to pull information
out of your head. At the same time, you’re
also forcing youself to think critically
about what information is the most important. What is gonna fit on that
little 3 by 5 index card? When you combine those
two factors together you’ll find that you’re studying the most important information
in the most efficient way. With tip number four
we’re staying on that active-learning,
active-recall train, but this time the tip
is to create quizzes out of your notes and
lecture materials, and then force
yourself to take them. Just with like the
cheat card exercise, you’re forcing
yourself to condense the most important
information you’re studying into a more compact format, but then you’re also bringing some pressure into the situation by forcing yourself
to take that quiz. Now, speaking of
that, the next tip is to try to simulate
the test conditions as best as you can
when you’re studying. This means going to the
testing room to study, actually simulating the
time constraints of the test when you’re taking your quizzes, and also getting your
hands on old practice tests that you can study from. Basically do whatever
you can to make your study sessions
mirror the actual test. Tip number six has to
do if you find yourself stuck on a question
during a test, and if this happens, try to
visualize your study area. Now the reason you’d
want to do this is because research
has shown that learning is context dependent. For example, in one study half
of the research participants learned something on
land, while the other half learned something while
underwater in scuba gear. When tested on
their recall later, the students who learned with
the scuba gear on underwater actually were able to recall
the information better when they were back
underwater in said scuba gear. What I’m trying to
tell you here is that you should
study underwater. Now this is not a new discovery, and another good example of this comes from the philosopher
John Locke, who wrote about, “A young gentleman, who,
having learned to dance, “and that to great perfection, “there happened to
stand an old trunk “in the room where he learned. “The idea of this remarkable
piece of household stuff “had so mixed itself
up with the turns “and the steps of his dances, “that though in the chamber he
could dance excellently well, “yet it was only whilst
the trunk was there; “nor could he perform
well in any other place, “unless that or some
such other trunk “had its due position
in the room.” Now, the English is a little
weird in that passage, but I’m sure you
can get the point. This all comes back
around to visualizing your study location when
you’re stuck though, because other research has
shown that people who do this are sometimes able to
overcome the effects of context dependent learning. Basically that means
that if you happen to study in the library and
then you visualize the library the memory of that study
location might help you forge connections to
the material you’re
trying to recall. Tip number seven is to
try doing at least one of your study sessions
while out on a walk. If you’re having trouble
grasping a certain concept, then try going on a
walk and reviewing it while you’re outside. Now many people
actually find that when they’re doing physical
activity and they’re outside, their brain makes
better connections, but you’re getting an
additional benefit as well. While you’re outside, you’re
looking at the problem from a different perspective. Barbara Oakley’s book, A
Mind for Numbers, points out that doing this helps you
review a concept and learn it while independent of
any environmental cues of one specific place. My eighth tip is to
apply Hofstadter’s Law to the act of studying. Now Hofstadter’s
Law states that, “It always takes
longer than you think, “even when taking into
account Hofstadter’s Law.” Encoding the information needed
to earn a certain test grade is almost always gonna take you longer than you expect it will. Yes, I know you’re
absolutely certain that later on tonight
you’re gonna study really, really hardcore,
but then your friends are gonna come in and
want to do something, or a five minute
study break is gonna turn into a Netflix binge. This is just simple reality, and smart people
plan around reality. So take the date
that you’re planning on starting to
study for your test, and try moving it back a week. That way you’re giving
yourself ample time to review and revise,
even if things get in the way that
you didn’t anticipate. Tip number nine is
to be deliberate about taking all
your small tasks and grouping them
into as few small, concentrated blocks
of time as you can. This’ll free up time
in your schedule to create large uninterrupted
blocks of study time. Now when you’re doing this,
as a general rule of thumb, try to put those
uninterrupted study sessions as early as you can in the day. This is because your willpower
is a finite resource, and if you use it all on small
tasks earlier in the day, you’re not gonna have
as much left over for that big study session
you need to get to. This is where the saying “Eat
your frogs first” came from. Do the hardest things when your willpower reserves are
as high as they can go. And we are finally
to the last tip, and it is simply to
appreciate test-taking as part of the learning process. Viewing tests only
as assessments, as basically judgements,
makes them scary and causes undue stress. Instead, try to see
your tests as beautiful, concentrated bursts of
recall and application. And you can also reduce
further stress with cats. So that is it for this video. If you found it
helpful you can always leave a Like down below to
help support this channel, and if you want to
find more videos with more additional tips on
how to do better on your tests, then this channel is
absolutely full of them. On the screen right now you’ll
see thumbnails for videos on finals tips, how to deal with test anxiety, how to not make stupid
mistakes on your exams, and also whether
or not you should change answers on your exams
if you feel like changing them. Whichever one fits your
fancy click it right now, and hopefully it’ll
teach you something new. Lastly, if you have questions
that are still unanswered, or maybe you saw
something in this video that piqued your curiosity, and now you want a more
in-depth video in the future, then leave those questions
down in the comments. Those comments are
super helpful for me because they let me
know what to make next, and somebody might actually answer your question
in the meantime. So that’s it, thank you
so much for watching and I will see you next week. Hey guys, thanks so
much for watching to the end of this
video on test prep. Now if you want to get more tips on being an effective
student every single week then you can hit that big red
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book and I’ll get one to you. You can find a summary
for this video, along with links to a lot
of the research i mentioned, and other resources at
the companion blog post which can be accessed at
the orange logo right there. Last weeks video talked
about how to craft a good sleep schedule when the rest
of your schedule is hectic, and fittingly, I created
that video at 4am before going to VidCon,
but check it out anyway. And also, if you’d
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