Experts share the best study methods that actually work

May 01, 2017
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Have you ever wondered whether your study techniques are actually working? Has it ever seemed like the information just isn’t sinking in anymore?  Well look no further! Because some super-smart scientist people have researched the best study methods to increase your memory, reduce your stress levels and possibly ace your exams. So grab a notepad and pen and listen up, because you can’t argue with the hard, cold facts!

Test yourself

I bet you have all quizzed yourself at some point in your studies. But have you ever pre-tested yourself? That means quizzing yourself on new material, before you’ve even looked at your notes and started studying.

Dr Benedict Carey, author of How We Learn, says “Across a variety of experiments, psychologists have found that, in some circumstances, wrong answers on a pre-test aren’t merely useless guesses.”

“Rather, the attempts themselves change how we think about and store the information contained in the questions.”

So getting the answer wrong each time while testing ourselves will actually help us in our exams? I think we can manage that.

And don’t sweat it if you feel like you can’t remember one particular part of your self-quiz. The harder it is to remember a piece of information in practice mode, the more likely we are to remember it in the future.


OK, I know this one is a long shot for most of us. It’s rare that I even cover the basic content of the unit let alone overlearn my subject. But psychologists say that overlearning is the secret to sucess. According to experts, you shouldn’t stop when you feel like you really know the material. When you get to that point, you should continue to go over those notes for a quarter of the original time spent on studying.

So when you get to that “Hey, I’m actually confident I know everything I possibly can about this subject” stage of study, you still have to keep going?! That’s not depressing at all.


The idea behind self-explanation as a reading strategy is to pause from reading your textbook periodically and explain to yourself what it means to you

Professor Micki Chi says self-explaining helps you to make conclusions about what you’re reading. Explaining the text in your own words helps you to identify the problem and understand the reading without difficulty.

Space it out

We’ve all spent our fair share of those horrible dark days holed up in the library for hours, squeezing every last piece of information into our already exhausted minds. Well here’s a piece of information worth knowing - cramming doesn’t work!

Neurobiologists have confirmed that repeated and short study sessions spaced out over time is way more efficient than studying for five hours straight. Who knew, right?  Short breaks in between mini cramming sessions actually improve your memory and you’re able to get more done! Think of it like your brain working at full power when you’ve had time to recharge. And besides, I’m sure we all deserve a little break now and then!

Take naps! (Seriously)

Good news for all my champion nappers out there - napping can reduce stress, help you concentrate and improve your memory!

The more you study a piece of information, the more likely you are to subconsciously review it in your sleep and when you wake up, you are way more likely to remember it. So there’s no need to feel guilty about falling asleep at your desk, because even in your sleep you’re actually still studying.

Professor Ken Paller explains: “Whatever makes you rehearse during sleep is going to determine what you remember later, and conversely, what you’re going to forget.”

If taking naps are going to help me pass my exams, then hell, who am I to complain?

Sophie Nicolas

Sophie is studying a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and is an aspiring writer, dog enthusiast and thrift shop fashion icon.

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