So, you want good grades or to pass the BOC exam? You already know the basics — get enough sleep, don’t cram, and so on…
How can you and other athletic training students make sure study sessions are effective? To help you ace your exams and get good grades, here are 6 study tips backed by science.
Study Tip #1: Pre-test yourself
Do you have trouble absorbing information? Before you start, quiz yourself. It’s been shown that pre-testing before studying helps you retain information. Additionally, getting answers wrong can help you remember the right answers better in the long run.
Even guessing an answer helps cement the information once you get it. There’s also the hypercorrection effect. Duke University researchers found that the more confident you are in an incorrect answer, the stronger you remember the right answer.
Here are some tips for using this study method:
- Take a practice test before you begin studying.
- Leave yourself questions and prompts when you’re taking notes. When you study, try guessing the answers to the questions you wrote before diving into your notes.
Study Tip #2: Use the Cornell note-taking method
Everyone’s favorite note-taking method: Cornell notes. With this simple yet efficient way to take notes, you can learn more and study more easily.
Here’s how to take Cornell notes:
- Divide your page into 3 main sections
- Write succinct notes on one section, and pull out keywords, key points, and questions on the next section
- Finally, take a step back and reflect on the material. Summarize what you’ve covered on the third section
(Here’s a free Cornell notes template to get you started)
When you sum up your notes, you pull everything together, reorganize the information, and draw out the main point. There’s an active thought process going on. Organize your notes so they’re skimmable, logical, and easy to understand when revising. You’ve even made yourself a TL;DR!
Tips for this study technique:
- When you’re reviewing your notes, write questions in the first section that can be little quizzes and help you focus on the important stuff
- Keep it short. Be mindful of what you write down
- Review your notes! They’re designed to be easy to read – so do it
Study Tip #3: Use flashcards to trigger active recall
Learning and remembering information is easier when you use flashcards. From creating each card to putting them into action, flashcards require you to think about the material you’re studying. To test yourself, you’ve got to search your brain for an answer. Active recall is the process of trying to remember, and it’s been shown to boost long-term memory. Flashcards are a fun and easy way to prepare for exams, so remembering what you learned won’t be a problem.
Tips for this study technique:
- If you’re writing your own flashcards, avoid multiple-choice questions. Recognizing the right answer is not the same as producing it
- Use ATStudy Buddy flashcards to save time – they are available with the All-Access memberships
Study Tip #4: Study in multiple short sessions (spaced repetition)
Cramming the night before is notorious for not working – but why?
You’ll stress yourself out trying to “learn” too much information at once, and the information won’t stick. Remembering something after taking a break has a lot to do with active recall (see tip #3!). When you cram, everything you read is fresh. When you’ve just read a definition, reciting it doesn’t take much brainpower. It’s why learning researchers recommend spaced repetition – for example, instead of going over your flashcards three times in one evening, test yourself three times throughout the week.
Every time you study, you’ve taken a break from the material (so you forget some of it) and need to actively recall it. This (also called retrieval practice) gets information buried in your brain. When you review the material over time, the forgetting curve (the rate at which you forget information) flattens out.
Tips for using this study technique:
- Set aside specific study days for different subjects. Monday and Wednesday could be course A and Tuesday and Thursday could be course B.
- You can combine this with pre-testing (see tip #1). Try quizzing yourself every time you review your notes
Study tip #5 Teach what you just learned (the Feynman Technique)
Put yourself in the shoes of a ten-year-old and explain what you’re learning. Using the Feynman Technique, you can organize information so that it’s easy to learn and communicate.
- Get to know your topic/concept
- Use simple language and explain it to a kid (or imagine doing so)
- Make a list of your knowledge gaps. Is there something you find difficult to simplify? What question would the kid still have? Revisit the material and fill in the gaps
- Explain it better
By simplifying a complex concept, you’re reorganizing the information in your head, and deepening your understanding. You’ll start to see where you keep using jargon to fill in knowledge gaps.
Tips for this study technique:
- Pair it with Cornell notes (see tip #2). Summarize using the Feynman Technique
- If something’s hard to explain, try an analogy. Identifying patterns and relationships also helps you understand a concept better
Study tip #6: Take advantage of study groups or studying together
Studying probably isn’t your ideal pastime. You’ll be more likely to study if you’ve got other people to study with. Furthermore, some study techniques work better with a partner.
- Take turns testing each other. Start the study session off by pre-testing each other, or just go through flashcards or ATStudy Buddy Quick Reviews together. Can you elaborate on the concepts in the Quick Reviews?
- Work together on flashcard decks. Here’s where two (or more!) heads are definitely better than one. You can build more comprehensive flashcards if you’re studying the same subjects and everyone can contribute new questions.
- Learn from each other using Feynman’s technique. This is especially effective if your group mates aren’t studying the same concepts as you.
Get ready to get good grades and pass the BOC exam!
Good luck studying!