Many students approach studying without a plan and are frustrated by the poor results on their tests and projects. Choosing an effective study plan will help you remember what you learned in class so you can be prepared for the test and also remember the content beyond the test. The example given here is for a class of high difficulty, so you would shorten the amount of time spent if your class is easier or lengthen it if the class is harder.
More than any other technique, the key to performing well on exams is starting early and using short, frequent study sessions. The human brain learns academic material faster and better on an exam if done in brief blocks of time spread out over longer periods of time, rather than in a few lengthy sessions. For example, you will perform better on an exam if you spend one hour studying each day for 20 days than if you spend 10 hours studying each day for two days before an exam.
Don’t cram. But if you have to cram, try to focus on remembering the information you do know rather than trying to teach yourself new information. You will typically not remember what you tried to learn the night before the exam, anyway, so it is best to make sure you really know some part of the information for the test. If you do have a few days, try to spread the studying out so you are not doing it all in one night.
If you plan ahead, many students have found the Five Day Plan gets good results. Here are some keys to the Five Day Plan:
Eight to ten hours of studying may be required to get an A or a B on a test. This is just a general guideline. You may need to study more or less depending on the difficulty of the class.
Break the material into smaller parts. If it can be divided by chapter, use that. If not, make up your own chunks based on the structure of the material. Plan to spend about two hours studying on each of the five days. Work on the material in two ways: prepare and review.
|Preparation Strategies||Review Strategies|
|Develop study sheets||Recite study sheets|
|Develop concept maps||Replicate concept maps|
|Make word cards||Recite word cards|
|Make question cards||Recite question cards|
|Make formula cards||Practice writing formulas|
|Make problem cards||Work problems|
|Make self-tests||Take self-tests|
|Do study guides||Practice study guide info out loud|
|Re-mark text material||Take notes on re-marked text|
|Make a list of 20 topics that would be on the exam; define the list of 20||Recite list of 20|
|Do problem||Do “missed” problems|
|Outline||Recite main points from outline|
|Summarize material||Recite notes from recall cues; recite out loud|
|Chart related material||Re-create chart from memory|
|List steps in the process||Recite steps from memory|