If your High School is on the semester system then most likely you have just finished, or are soon to be finished your final exams.
I can remember cramming on my back porch for my Grade 10 Biology finals. (This is going back a while now; Quite a while.) I remember that I spent the better part of an entire day reading over every note, scribble, and comment that I had ever made. This particular cram-a-thon stands out in my memory, not because of what I studied, or how well I did on the exam, but because of the spectacular sunburn that I got as I sat immobilized for hours on the back porch. In fact, by the weekend after the exam, I had totally forgotten every word that I so diligently crammed.
I know this because to this day, I don’t remember a single thing about grade 10 Biology; Nothing. Only the memory of the sunburn remains.
It seems to me now, looking back, that perhaps the technique of gorging myself on Biology was not the most effective study technique. In fact, I know now that it wasn’t.
But what could I have done differently with my study habits to make how I studied more effective?
Well, for starters, I should not have tried to study everything in one afternoon session. I’m guilty of procrastination. I admit it. By the time I entered university, I learned my lesson: Cramming Doesn’t Work. It just doesn’t.
Once I finally grasped this concept, I started to develop better study habits. Habits like reading over the notes that I took during the day, and paraphrasing the teacher’s notes using my own words. When it came time for a midterm or a final, I’d look over my own notes and ask myself, “Do I know what this is about? Can I talk about this unit in my own words?” When I answered myself with “maybe,” or a “not really,” I would read the unit carefully, then cover up my notes and recite them back in my own words.
Why would you want to recite stuff back in your own words? The answer is simple. When you recite and paraphrase, it means that you understand. And, understanding is better than memorizing. When you memorize, you only remember the stuff that you just read for a short time. When you understand, it sticks.
Another great tip that I learned was giving myself plenty of time. You know when the teacher tells you that a test is coming up? That’s the day to start reviewing your notes. It seems simple enough, right? When you are told that a test is coming up, don’t wait until the last minute to start studying. It’s one of the most basic rules of effective studying: Give yourself plenty of time.
Now put these tips all together:
- Give yourself plenty of time
- Read over your notes every night
- Paraphrase the text book and the teacher’s notes
- Read something, cover it up, and recite it back until you know it.
- Don’t memorize it. Understand it.
There is also one other important tip. If you are unsure about a concept, or don’t understand something, make sure that you ask for extra help. Talk to the teacher. Get another student to help you. Just like the golden rule for studying, (give yourself plenty of time), don’t wait until the last minute to let your teacher know that you need help.
That’s it. These are the best tips to help you not only to study, but to study effectively.
If only I had figured this stuff out back in High School, I might have been able to tell you something about my Grade 10 Biology.