25 Chapter 25: Studying Basics
Successful students view studying as a process, not an event. This means that you consider studying an ongoing activity. Study early and study often. The best time to start studying is the first day of class. This requires you to shed any prior images you have of studying as an event that is scheduled only near test time. Rather than waiting to review notes until just before the test, the best approach to studying suggests that you start early and review often. This is supported by the knowledge that repeated exposure to information is more effective for recall than a single extended exposure. If you see a phone number for two minutes 25 times over two weeks you are much more likely to recall it than if you saw it one time for 50 minutes. Certainly, as the day of the test gets nearer the intensity of your studying needs to get higher. The process of studying becomes an ongoing progressive exercise that works itself to a peak as test day arrives. This understanding promotes deeper learning as opposed to simple memorization. While you want to remember the information you study, your primary goal is to learn it. Dedicating yourself to preparing and studying will give you more confidence for test day and confidence can greatly impact your performance on the test. Avoid cramming at all costs. It is the least effective way to study. Although students sometimes refer to an “all-nighter” as almost a right of passage in college, the end result is an exercise in poor learning and a deep drain of energy that leaves you under-prepared for a test. A good analogy to understand the low quality outcome of cramming is that cramming for a test is like trying to bake a cake faster by increasing the temperature of the oven from 350 to 500. You end up with a burned cake, and similarly with cramming, you end up burned out.