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Study Tips for Boosting Test Scores
Improve Grades With a Few Changes
Pulling all-nighters isn't necessary to improve grades if you know how to study. It's about quality, not quantity. You need to make sure you understand the information instead of relying on rote memorization (repeating something to yourself over and over again but not really grasping the material). It's easiest to make good grades if you engage your mind in class as well as after class.
Attendance is obviously the most important factor. Don't be tempted to skip! Your grades may suffer.
Sit in the "T-zone" of the classroom—front row horizontally or middle row vertically. Front and center is best, but there's only one seat there and probably 20 or more students, and everyone doesn’t feel comfortable in that one anyway. These seats put you in the teacher's line of vision and you're less likely to get distracted by something else.
When the teacher's voice raises, or if he lifts his hand close to his face while saying something, what he's saying is important to him and you're likely to see it on the test. Write it down!
Read ahead for the lectures to come. When you've already read the information, you have a more basic understanding prior to the lecture and you'll process what the instructor says differently, and hopefully the improve grades you get on tests. This means you're more equipped to take in the information the teacher gives and figure out what he/she deems most important. You can also wrap your mind around the concepts more easily during the lecture. Your mind will be more engaged and you'll have less work to do when it's time to study for the test. Bonus: you can ask and answer questions with ease.
Re-read your notes every day. On the third day of class, read your notes from the first, second, and third days. On the fourth, read your notes from the first, second, third, and fourth. This drills the information into your mind better and helps even if you think you already know the material. Overlearning will help you avoid those dreaded tip-of-the-tongue moments during a test when you know you know the answer, but you can't think of it when it matters.
Concentration is sometimes hard to come by. It can seem like everything in the world decides to enter your mind at once when it's time to study. With practice, you can combat those urges and give your books your full attention for longer periods of time.
Set up a "study place" and a "study time" for yourself. We're creatures of habit, and if you train your mind to study in a certain area, that's what you'll be geared up to do when you go there. Concentration will come more easily.
Avoid rote memorization as much as possible if your goal is to improve grades. If you really understand the material as opposed to chanting it to yourself in the hopes that you'll remember the information during the test, you're less likely to get so anxious you forget.
Make up mnemonics to help yourself remember information. Here are a few examples:
- Acrostic: A good example of this one is the way a lot of us learned the order of the planets: My Very Energetic Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto).
- Organizational Schemes: Take the information you've got and arrange it into a fun story or poem you'll remember better than the textbook's way of explaining things. This helps you remember the order of events.
- Key word: This is helpful in learning foreign languages. You take a word from another language, figure out an English word it sounds like, and make a connection between the two. For example, "embarazada" means "pregnant" in Spanish. It sounds like "embarrassed" in English. Pregnant women are sometimes embarrassed about their mood swings. You have a link.
De-stress before trying to study. If yoga helps, do that. If you write in a journal, do that first so all your worries are on vacation for a while. When you're calm, you can learn more easily.
Drink your coffee or Mountain Dew WHILE studying—not before. If you drink it beforehand, you'll just be jittery and unable to focus while you need to. Caffeine can be beneficial to memory, but you don't want to overdo it before you even get started and then burn out before you're done covering the material.
- Make notecards for vocabulary words, algebraic formulas, or foreign language classes. Keep them with you at all times and study when you have a bit of free time (waiting for a ride, standing in line at the movies, etc).
- Find a friend and quiz each other with questions each of you have come up with.
- Wear the same scent while taking the test as you did when you studied. Smell is a very powerful memory trigger. Think about a pastry your grandmother loved to cook when you visited as a child. When you smell something similar, aren't you mentally back in her house for a moment?
If you utilize these tips, you're likely to feel more confident going into your next exam. The key is to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed the night before the test. Prepare a little every day, try to make it as easy to concentrate during your allotted study time as possible, and work to keep your stress levels low.