Study Tricks

16 May 2016

‘Exams’ is a powerful word. It can make even the most confident student shudder and scramble to find notes, all with sweaty palms and a racing heart.

How do we overcome this nightmare? Some of us need to employ some revolutionary study techniques (read: last-ditch attempts to salvage marks). Tried and tested, here are the keys to the door of endless H1s.

Context cues:

Basically, our brain really likes to make associations. You can devise your own memory cue by doing something while studying and doing it again while taking the exam. For example, chewing gum while studying and then also during the exam can boost your recall! Gum is also really nice (but don’t be annoying and chew loudly in the libraries). The same concept applies to the environment you’re in – if you’re close by, study at the REB or near Wilson Hall.

Emotional cues:

The same thing applies with the way we feel, as our body uses internal as well as external cues to recall information. So when studying for your exam, imagine it’s the real thing, and you will probably start to feel a bit nervous. Harness this feeling and study away! That way, you will be able to better retrieve that information from your memory even if you’re a bit nervous during the exam. This is an important tip for those who suffer from exam-related anxiety – you can actually harness this feeling to enhance recall, rather than it detracting from your performance.

Rockin’ that grandma scent:

Ever smelt something and felt the influx of memories come rushing back? One scent particularly associated with memory recall is rosemary. However, scents in general play a powerful role in terms of what remember. Why is this? The olfactory bulb is located super close to the brain’s limbic system (in short, where the memory-making happens). If you train your brain to make an association between a particular smell and content using that olfactory bulb, you’re good to go! One easy way to do this is wear the same perfume/cologne while studying and taking the exam.

So easy you can do it with your eyes closed:

Sleeping is the brain’s prime time, when it is hard at work processing and consolidating the day’s information. The neural connections are all getting strengthened and you don’t have to lift a finger! Try reading your notes just before you go to sleep and as soon as you wake up to reinforce this process. Also, if you don’t get a good sleep and try to study the next day, your study is not going to be very effective.

Find yourself in your readings:

For those lucky ducks with take-home exams, my advice to you is warm up those fingers and get ready to Ctrl + F on all your readings to find key words in your topic! Make sure you’ve still revised your content though, so you have a nice framework to start with when answering essays/questions. I could say ‘do all your readings’ – but that would mean I’d have to take the ‘tried and tested’ part of the introduction out.Good luck everyone and may we all receive H1s this semester!

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