A survey of how people study for exams shows that nearly 50 per cent of young people will cram the night before. But is this the best way to study?
This may work for you if you have a
good short-term memory, but what if you need to remember the stuff weeks and even years after the exam?
So, what’s the solution?
Exams doctor George Turnbull’s advice is simple: “Do not cram the night before an exam.”
He also suggests students who plan long four-hour study slogs are only fooling themselves. Such marathon efforts result in “only 10 minutes’ actual work being done”.
“Start with the 10 minutes you know you will do. Then have a 10-minute break and start again.”
Dominic O’Brien, eight-time winner of the world memory championships, whose books include How To Pass Exams, has this advice:
- Follow the five times principle: Read the information and try to commit it to memory immediately then review it 24 hours later. Read and memorise it again a week later, then again after a month. When you come to review it a fifth time after three to six months, it should stay in your long-term memory.”
- Good memory techniques include speed reading and note-taking.
- One memory technique for learning languages is “gender zones”. Visualise feminine nouns such as “la cantina” (cellar) in your home or home town; masculine nouns such as “il campo” (field) elsewhere.
- To improve speed reading, use a pointer such as a pen to trace along the lines as you read.
- Take effective notes, make mind maps from key words and crystallise original notes down to helpful reminders.
- If you learn something new, review it within 24 hours to help lodge it in your memory.