Preparing for Finals: How to Study

By Christina Davis ‘18, Psych Club Chairperson  

We’ve all experienced that tinge of pain you get when you do not do well on a test. Then, that oh-so familiar question pops into your mind: Where did I go wrong?

Performing poorly in any subject matter often can be attributed to study habits that are usually inefficient. Individuals rarely change the way they study, even after their studying habits have negatively affected their grades. Some individuals may make small changes in their studying, but do fail to realize that the new methods have absolute little to no effect on retention of information. Other individuals ignore some of the core problems of their studying habits. Many of the most prevalent issues being:

  • Spending ample time on key terms or summaries at the cost of taking away from other activities that can be done to retain information.
  • Highlighting unnecessary information and, consequently, increasing the amount of content being studied.
  • Using chapter review questions (and their answers) as more content to study versus using them to test their own knowledge.
  • Studying with a friend without testing each other, taking review questions, creating examples or reviewing notes.
  • Listening to music, watching television, texting or indulging in social media.

Activities such as the ones listed above ultimately detract from the amount of attention spent on studying key materials for any subject. They interfere with the following four cognitive study behaviors that are responsible for mastering a subject’s content: repetition-based (e.g., flashcards), cognitive-based (e.g., studying with a friend), procedural (e.g., time management), and metacognitive (e.g., taking quizzes to test self-knowledge) studying.

That said being said, here are a few studying techniques you can use to make the most of your time:

  • Schedule daily studying and homework time
  • Make lists of things to accomplish during studying
  • Put off pleasurable events until work is completed
  • Read the textbook
  • Review the class textbook/assignments before going to class
  • Create mnemonics and vivid mental images to aid learning
  • Memorize the material through repetition
  • Generate examples to apply the material
  • Record information relating to study tasks (e.g., keeping a study log)
  • Self-verbalize the steps to complete a given task
  • Use chapter review questions to self test
  • Use a study partner

Remember, it is not about the amount of time you spend studying, but rather how you study!


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