End of semester exams are approaching for many students, and some may be experiencing some test anxiety. A new article by Study Medicine in Europe provides some science-based tips on how to study effectively and reduce test anxiety. While aimed at college students, the study tips are useful for any student preparing for an exam.
Studying is a Skill
Studying is not last-minute cramming, which does nothing but increase anxiety and hinder information retention. It is a skill that can be developed by students, and it is far better for a child to learn good study habits while in elementary, middle, or high school rather than in college when poor study skills can lead to poor grades or retaking classes and increase the cost of attending college.
When a student is organized and well-prepared, studying is simply a part of the larger process of going to class, doing homework, and taking tests. Encourage your student to organize their class materials in an efficient way that makes sense for them (and don’t let them tell you that wads of crumpled paper at the bottom of a backpack is an organizational system!). They should be able to easily locate their class notes, completed homework, and graded tests as well as identifying any assignments that they still need to finish.
Your student also needs a good study area. What that means will vary from student to student. For some, it may mean a quiet place with few distractions. For others, it may mean studying with a group, though group study sessions can often drift away from the task at hand and are generally best for topics your student is having specific trouble with that the group can help them understand.
Creating a Study Plan
A study plan is an organized way of scheduling specific times for studying. It provides a student with something to follow and allows for tracking commitment and progress. Since every student studies differently, the amount of time that should be set aside for studying will vary. Florida State University has a template for creating a weekly study schedule.
Study Smarter, Not Longer
Even adults sometimes struggle to do things we know we have to do but don’t really want to do. One effective approach is the Pomodoro Technique. Using the Pomodoro Technique involves setting a 25-minute timer to work intensively on a task, followed by a 5-minute break of free time. This is especially effective as a studying technique, because our brains have a Primacy/Recency Bias, that is, our brains tend to remember the first information that reaches it (primacy) because that information works like a reference point for everything that follows and the most recent information it has received (recency). By using the Pomodoro Technique for studying, you have more starts and stops in studying which will help to remember more.