Study Tips from Psychology

What is the most effective way to study? Psychologists studied this question and their research findings provide helpful strategies and tips that you can use to improve your test-taking performance. Researchers have found that studying and testing in the same setting can help you remember more of what you learned. These experiments tested college students in memory test settings. What does this mean for high school students? Findings show that studying in the same environment where you originally learned the information is best, we do not recommend heading back to your classroom to study for your upcoming math test. Rather, pick a place in your house or the library where you consistently study.  Ideally, this location would be quiet (not in front of the TV!) and free of distractions. Consistency in your study environment is thought to be helpful because memories are recalled better when the environmental cues match the cues present when you try to remember information.

Many students use flashcards to study, and psychology research suggests this can be a great way to study vocabulary and definitions. Make a complete set of flashcards, and do not skip any of them. Research suggests that putting a card to the side that you are confident you know may actually reduce your recall of these vocabulary words. In addition, research suggests that creating a set of 500 flashcards and going through all 500 at a time may not help you remember more words. Doing 20 at a time and then adding 20 more when you feel comfortable with the first set may be the best way to use flashcards.

Lastly, researchers have found that people are unable to pay attention for long periods of time and still remember everything. So? Take frequent breaks. Some suggest every 30-45 minutes students should take a 15-minute break. You could get a snack, go for a walk, or even just rest your eyes.

Most importantly, remember that although a test score is important, what is most important is that you learn the material. Happy Studying!