We’ve all done it. After the first time, you swore you’d never do it again. Now you’ve just accepted it’s a part of university life. No, I’m not talking about eating dry Weetbix cause your roommate drank the rest of the milk and you forgot to buy more. I’m talking about cramming your study.
Please hold all eye rolls. I know what your thinking.
“But I don’t have the time to study” or “Every time I try to do it regularly I don’t find myself sticking to it”.
Look, I know how you feel. At this point in life, it’s all about juggling work, uni, family and for those of you lucky ones who have one, your social life. Sometimes it can get hard managing that small amount of time you have effectively. But fear not, for I’m about to show you why putting that little bit more effort into slow and steady studying will have you walking out of your exams like Leo walking out of the Oscars.
Ditch the Cramming
According to psychologists in San Diego, cramming your study the night before is pretty much a waste of your time and energy. Not only will you be more stressed and tired from your efforts, but your brain probably won’t have retained much of the information you desperately wanted it to.
Their research also found that it’s more effective to study closer to the day that the material was taught, rather than waiting until the exam is approaching.
They believe the optimal time for studying to be 10% between that of the time of learning and the test. So for example, if you had an exam on Monday morning and the material was taught to you the Monday before, you shouldn’t be studying later than Wednesday.
Long Term Memory is Where it’s At
If I asked you to tell me one fact that you studied for your last exam, would you be able to tell me?
Chances are you probably can’t which shows that the information you studied didn’t make it into your long-term memory.
So how do we fix that?
Well, research has also shown that by spreading out study sessions over a longer period of time helps increase the chances of it being turned into a long-term memory.
In other words, if you have say 8 hours to spend on a subject, it's more beneficial to study it for 2 hours each week for four weeks than to cram all 8 hours into the week before.
By spreading out your studying, not only will you be increasing the chance of the information sticking with you but you also won’t need to stay up half the night before the exam to cram.
Which is even more reason to give the slow study a go, as a study by the University of California in Los Angles, shows that lack of sleep leads students to do more poorly on tests than if they were to get a better sleep.
So Where Do I Start?
The first thing to get you on the way to remembering all the periodic elements like a pro is sit down and work out a study plan.
Now this doesn’t have to be overly complicated, nor does it have to be pretty (although who doesn’t love a bit of colour), it’s just basically there to keep you on track.
If you’re not sure how to set out a study plan, for tech lovers check out, Go Conquer. It’s free once you sign up and basically, it lets you create your own personal timetable.
For those more old school like me, check out The Student Life Australia’s timetable tutorial. It’s a little rough around the edges but you can make it your own.
Once you’ve got your timetable sorted, it’s all about sticking to it and using the time you’ve put aside effectively (Yes, this means no Facebook or Instagram checks).
2. BE REALISTIC
One of the most important things to remember is to be realistic. Especially when it comes to planning out your study timetable.
There’s really nothing worse than not meeting the high expectations you may have set yourself and as a result of this, decide to eat a whole block of chocolate and watch 10 episodes of One Tree Hill because you’ve fallen behind your study plan (Just me? Oh… awkward).
Everybody is different and no one way will suit everyone’s lifestyle. Once you find what works for you, run like the wind with it.
3. GIVE IT A GO
While it’s all good and well for me to sit here and tell you that this is how you should be studying, at the end of the day it really comes down to you and how much you want those distinctions.
Obviously, if you haven’t tried this study method before, it’s going to take a little getting used to but I promise you the perseverance will pay off in the end.
As, Alex Elle once said, “It’s never too late to start over. If you weren’t happy with yesterday, try something different today. Don’t stay stuck, do better”.
WORDS BY LAUREN SUTTIE