Effective Study Methods


Here’s another post focusing in on this busy time for the most of us. For those of you whose exams have already begun, I hope it is all going well.

As I am writing this I have a few more days of studying before my first exam and thought it may be useful to share my method of studying that I have developed over a few years and by trial and error. Hopefully this helps you or encourages you throughout this study process!

Step 1

Create an outline for your exam. Gather all your materials including any notes you took throughout the course, information from lectures and seminars, course textbooks and any other sources that have been mentioned within the course.

Check with your professor as to what aspects of the course you will be tested on in the exam such as which chapters in the textbook or is the exam based on the second half of the course or a repetition of the first half also?

Once you have all of this you can then begin to form a study outline. I set my outline topic by topic, therefore use the topic as a subheading in bold and then list all concepts, theories, theorists, diagrams and important notes and information that you will have to focus on to thoroughly understand that topic. Continue this for the entire topics studied within the course until you have an outline that includes all you will have to study.

Having an outline displaying everything you will need to know is a really great way to organize the course within your head. You can clearly see the progress you are making and can predict the amount of time each day in which you should dedicate to studying.


Step 2

First study session. I say ‘first’ study session because I always repeat what I study. Repetition is the key to remembering all of the little details when you are taking the exam, therefore skimming or studying everything just once may not give you the best end results. (This is also why all of our professors remind us to start studying early!)

If you are on a time crunch and therefore feel you may not be able to repeat all of the notes, I recommend studying all of the notes once, and after, use flash cards to write the key concepts and test yourself on those.

When I am doing the first study session, I always make sure that I write everything. I do understand people learn differently and I 100% learn through writing and repetition. I understand people like to type or just read their notes, but I really recommend writing everything. As studies show, writing allows for a stronger connection between your mind and your handwriting movements therefore making it more likely to remember what you have studied. And I understand writing everything takes a lot longer, but if you are going to take the time out to study why not do it effectively?


Step 3

Second study session. If I have enough time to write everything out the second time I do. I will short form my notes a little more this time, group common themes or concepts and try summarizing the concepts without looking at my notes to see how much I am already beginning to remember.

I also sometimes during the second study session, type the notes instead of rewrite them. If I feel I need a change or that I want it to go a little quicker, because I already used my most effective method of learning the first round of studying, the second round is perfectly fine to do a little more summarizing and making it a quicker process.


Step 4

Last minute testing. At this point you should be feeling pretty confident with your studying and taking the exam. If I still have a day or so before the exam I will do some testing, either using flash cards and focusing on main course concepts or another really effective method of studying is actually teaching it to others. If you have a friend, roommate or family member who can spare a few minutes, try giving them a crash course session. Teaching others allows you to now speak what you have revised and this really helps with making sure what you have studied stays within your muscle memory.

My friend and I have most of the same courses therefore for the three years we have been together at University, we would always come together after our own individual studying to then teach each other any concepts we may not be comfortable with yet.

I really find teaching others so effective in remembering information.


Well I hope my study methods have helped you and maybe gave you some ideas in how to ensure your own study methods are as effective as they should be. I wish you all the best of luck with the final exams and this busy season. Just remember you have worked this hard thus far, make sure you continue and go out with a bang 🙂 You will feel really satisfied and accomplished in the end!

Bye for now and good luck! 🙂

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