When you prepare for an exam, you can do a lot to get yourself ready. Improve your confidence. Better your nutrition. Get more sleep. All of these things are important, and each can help you better retain information. Plus, you can further optimize how much information you retain if you use a few key tips to tap into your memory and make effective use of your study time. Here are some of our favorite tips on retaining information for exams.
Study Information You’ll Need More Than Once
If you think about studying in a straightforward way, then it will probably go something like this: you review a sample exam, then structure your studying over a few months to hit on each subject once. But is this really the best way to do it?
Studies on memory retention suggest that it’s probably not. After all, think about those things you remember best. Your phone’s passcode. The cheat codes on your favorite video games. Your social security number. You remember what you use often, not what you use once.
This has been verified in the scientific literature as well. According to Advances in Physiological Education, “Studies have shown that practicing temporally spaced retrieval of previously learned information via formal assessments increases student retention of the information.”
What does this mean for your study habits? The best way to retain information is not only to present yourself with it once, but to intermittently return to it. Structure your studies to include reviews of what you’ve previously learned. Quiz yourself on past results. Don’t move on from these quizzes once you feel you’ve “mastered” it, especially if you’re still months away from a college entrance exam.
How to Incorporate Recall into Your Study Habits
Want more tips to retain information for your exams? Let’s use the principle above—that you need to study information multiple times throughout your preparation to retain it—and recommend some practical ways to incorporate this into your work:
- Spread your studying out across a longer time period. Don’t cram for five hours a day in the two weeks leading to the exam. Teach your mind to retain information by repeatedly revisiting it for 30 minutes per day from months away.
- Try “teaching” information in other ways. Information you can teach is information you can retain. You don’t always have to teach a classroom to practice this effect. Instead, try taking the information you’ve learned and recreating it on a notecard, writing it out as if explaining it to someone who doesn’t have the knowledge that you have. Using the same information in different ways is a great way to remind yourself and practice recall.
Use Janzti Test Prep
Want more great tips to retain information for the day of the big exam? It all comes down to being prepared. Consider what private tutoring for the ACTs, SATs, and more can do to boost your chances for college success.