You’re catching up with friends, opening notebooks, sharpening pencils, and the next thing you know, there’s already the first exam of the year. Trust me, there is nothing like passively reading a textbook in silence to put a damper on the back-to-school hype.
So here are three easy hacks to get your game on and help you tackle the first exam of the year like a seasoned pro:
1. Active recall
Let’s say you’ve got an upcoming Spanish exam. But you haven’t practiced your Spanish at all over the past summer! We got you. First, pull out the information you need to know. Read it thoroughly and then close the book. With everything still fresh in your mind, go ahead and write down everything you remember. No peeking!
When you’re done, then you can take a look at the information you’ve missed and fill it in. Active recall intentionally replicates taking tiny memory quizzes over and over again. Not only is it going to help you remember things better, but it’s a chance to shake out those exam nerves.
This works great with subjects that have straightforward answers that you can jot down quickly: math formulas, vocabulary lists, history dates, etc.
2. Application questions
All this learning is for a reason, right? So let’s find a way to actually put that information to use! Studying for a tough math exam? Come up with some questions and practice what you’ve learned. Reviewing for a language exam? Start talking, writing, and using the new grammar and vocabulary.
Don’t forget, coming up with these questions for yourself is half the task! Take inspiration from some of your past homework or questions in your textbook that maybe your teacher didn’t assign. If you can, try and make up some questions of your own. Creating well-written questions forces you to think about what information is necessary to answer it right!
3. Teaching others
They say that a student is only ever as good as the teacher. Well, let’s put that to the test and become the teacher! Learning-by-teaching, a.k.a. “The Protege Effect,” is actually an extremely effective study method. Being able to explain the processes and steps behind what you’re learning, puts you several steps ahead of the game.
If you have a friend who’s down to help you study, ask them if they’re willing to sit through a short lecture from you. Preparing and giving an explanation of what you’re learning not only forces you to know the material by heart, but also be ready for any potential questions your friend might have after!
With these three study hacks, you’ll be on your way to straight A-s. Also, don’t forget to vary your study method! It’s easy to get into the mindset of bulldozing your way through a study session, but trying different approaches early in the school year will help acclimate you for the rest of the school year as well. So go ahead, mix and match, and you’ll find what works best for you.