By Maya Shavit
It’s midnight on a Thursday. You have just completed a deluge of difficult homework, and you are about to go to sleep when a wave of terror washes over you like a strong tide slapping against the shore. You forgot to study for that massive Algebra test you have tomorrow!
One way or another, all students have had a moment of panic where they completely forget about a topic and then do poorly on an important exam. Much of this stress is attributable to poor or weak study habits that we have developed over time. Luckily, it is never too late to study smarter by studying in an organized manner, challenging oneself to the greatest extent, and finding unique ways of retaining important concepts.
It is crucial to remember that studying does not happen in one night. Honors and AP science teacher Kathleen Brennan suggests that we should allot specific times to our studies and make sure that studying is a part of our daily routines.
One way to start is that we can process and review information the minute a new topic has begun. Allowing yourself to have dedicated time to digest information outside of the natural learning environment is important. To understand information, you should try to explain all concepts, ideas, and aspects to anyone unfamiliar with the topic and make him understand it. In essence, practice teaching others.
In addition to that thought, you must challenge yourself to understand the material. Social studies teacher Colleen Stephenson believes that a student’s most valuable studying tip is to challenge and review.
Students should “review class notes daily and … not wait till the night before the test taking process to make sure that as questions arise all throughout the unit, questions can be asked.”
By asking questions and prompting new thoughts about subjects, students can develop a deeper understanding of the topic they are researching. Questions about ideas will always help students conceptualize ideas more deeply and to understand more fully.
As a final strategy, personalize your studying. Each person’s mind is wired differently especially in the way it understands concepts, so one must find what works for him/her.
Freshman Allison Zhu takes some help from her father to personalize her studying:
“My dad in order to effectively explain a math concept puts it in fandom term, for example, Harry Potter, and explains it to me in Harry Potter terms. So if he is trying to explain to me a system of linear equations, he’ll say, ‘Harry Potter goes to the bank and deposits 5 galleons on the first day every day after that six galleons. Voldemort does the same thing except he first deposits ten galleons.’ And that is how he will get me to remember math terms.”
You can personalize in similar ways by drawing a doodle or making a parody of a song. The key is to find the best personal learning strategy, no matter how absurd it may seem to another student. Remember that learning is yours.
In conclusion, strive to organize, work on consistently challenging material, and find the method of studying that works for you. Then, apply all of your effort in whatever method of preparation you choose. If you internalize and apply the new information, you will hold onto it much longer.