Study hacks! We all want that those simple tricks to get good grades but how many of them actually work. Don’t worry, we’re not promising you’ll become a genius if you buy our book or sign up for our courses. These study hacks are backed by scientific research and free of charge, take a look now:
5) Move To Different Rooms
Before you lock yourself in your room and put out the”Do Not Disturb” sign, take a look at this classic study. In the experiment, psychologists found that college students who studied a list of 40 vocabulary words in two different rooms outperformed students who studied the words twice, in the same room. Later studies have confirmed the finding, for a variety of topics.
You see, studying in one location is good in a way. Consistency does help learning. An association is created between your mind and the environment. Hence, your mind is stimulated by the same environment to retrieve the information you’ve learned in that particular environment better. But we don’t take our exams in our bedrooms or the library, do we? So unless, you’ve made an exact replica of the exam hall, it’s best to alternate between different locations.
Switch it up! Once you’ve studied one round of material in your room, review it somewhere else like your living room instead. Maybe even go to the library or a coffee shop. This way you’re making the information more accessible under different conditions. “When the outside context is varied, the information is enriched, and this slows down forgetting,” said Dr. Bjork, author of the study and director of the UCLA Learning and Forgetting Lab.
4) Sleep After You Study
It’s almost tradition for a college student to fuel up with coffee and pull an all-nighter before a big exam but is it worth it? The answer is a resounding ‘No!’ Multiple studies have shown that cramming before a test often fails. Lacking sleep often leaves students confused and without enough energy to recall information. It may help in short-term but you won’t actually learn much at all.
The alternative, a good night of sleep, is just the opposite. Sleeping after studying gives the information you’ve just acquired better time to sink in your brain. Sleep is when your brain processes information, forms memories and gels it all together. In one study, participants who were instructed to memorize a set of word pairings and slept immediately performed significantly better than participants who did not. Conversely, the longer you stay awake, the more you forget.
But it doesn’t necessarily have to be a full blown 8 hour night time sleep either. A 90 minute midday nap after a vigorous study session can significantly boost your memory too. Other than that, regular sleep keeps the mind sharp and healthy. It is associated with a number of benefits such as better mood, stress levels and productivity. Also, did you know that the time you study makes a difference? Read about the difference between day and night studying here.
3) Take A Walk
We already know it’s true even if we’re too lazy to admit it. Exercise is good for you! It can dramatically reduce your stress levels. Stress will impair your focus and memory negatively. Good cardiovascular health has long been associated with high cognition. But there are more immediate benefits as well.
Walking can boost memory performances. It is suggested that physical activity increases arousal and activation, which is then invested into the cognitive task. . Movement is beneficial for your brain. It stimulates thinking. The increased blood flow and oxygen levels increase efficiency of learning. Hence, some schools are starting the day with physical education for students before class. It has gained them dramatic results.
So, take a walk before you start an intense study session or use it as a break. Maybe listen to a recorded lecture while you’re walking about or review things you’ve studied in your headDo this before an exam too! It’s been proven by science. The study compared students who had aerobic exercise such as running or walking before a test and students who just sat quietly. It was found that the students who were active scored better than the other students.
2) Space Out Your Sessions
Again, stop it with the all night hours long study-athons! It doesn’t work! When you focus on one task too long, it is inevitable that your mind starts to wonder. Instead, take short intermittent breaks to refocus yourself. Research shows that taking short diversions vastly help keep us motivated and focused. However, getting the information you learned into long-term memory requires you to review it again after your break. What do I mean?
First let us introduce you, to the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve. Basically, information we learn declines in a rapid speed. However, Ebbinghaus himself discovered a way to combat this. You will have to repeat the learned information at particular intervals. This method is called space learning, short burst of study with shorter breaks. For example, 15-20 minute study sessions with two 10-minute breaks between the sessions.
However, you can’t just keep going through the same thing every 15 minutes. The key to good studying is not time spent studying but the time in between studying! You’ll have to work to recall the information with more and more time in between. Train your memory like muscle, just like with endurance training, it slowly gets stronger and stronger. The breaks internalize the knowledge and the repetition results in long-term memories being formed. Again, this method has proven to be very effective in schools.
1) Be The Teacher
Yes! One of the best study hacks is to actually be the teacher! Well, not actually, just pretend to be. Teaching through studying has been proven by multiple studies to be one of the most effective learning methods. It is the best to know if you truly understand what you are studying. If you can’t teach something, you don’t fully understand it. You will identify the gaps in your knowledge.
It is another manifestation of the testing effect, the practice of retrieving information from memory. It also helps you organize your thoughts clearly and concisely. So, grab a friend and take turns ‘teaching’ each other. But it works even without an audience. One study found participants who taught a lesson alone while filmed retained more information than other participants. Hence, you can use your imagination and pretend to be teaching someone, presenting to them,testing them.
Studies have also indicated one of the reason older siblings are on average more high achieving is because they tutor their younger siblings. However, it’s more than tutoring. It’s the mindset it puts us in. It’s thinking about how the teacher would approach this. Forming question yourself and answering them yourself. This is actually a part of the most effective study hacks, metacognition (We’ve done a whole article about it, read it here) whereby thinking about thinking is the best way to learn.
At the end of the day though, study hacks will only help you so far. Good grades are a combination of effort and smart learning. Still, it doesn’t hurt to learn how to impress your professor too. Many factors contribute to excellence in academics.