Have you ever wondered how the smart kids in your class always make getting good grades look easy? You study, and study, and study only to finish your tests just as time runs out, and they finish right away and get A’s. Well, as a proud member of the propeller-head club, let me in on a few of our secrets.
1. Take good notes in class — This sounds like a no brainer, but there’s some tricks to it. First, don’t try to write down everything the teacher says. All that will do is make you fall behind on the lecture. Focus on writing down the nuggets, or critical bits of information you’re going to need. Trust me, they are rarely more than a sentence or two, you’ll recognize them when you hear them (or your teacher says “this is important” or “write this down”) and you’ll only have quite a few of them each class.
2. Re-write your notes — In my experience, this makes test-taking a breeze. A day or 2 before a test, take the time to go through your notes for the lessons that will be on the test, and re-write them. It’s always a good idea to do this with the book for that class open. Re-write your notes section by section, while following along in the book and filling in any gaps in your notes. Since you’re brain is in actively processing all the information as you do this, you’ll remember quite a bit more it. This works wonders on tests with essay questions.
3. Use the workbook — This is particularly helpful for math and science tests. Your brain is amazing at recognizing patterns. The more problems you solve, the more quickly your brain will learn to recognize what pattern you need to follow, and what the answer will be.
4. Read before you go to bed and/or after you wake up in the morning — If you have a chapter quiz and need to read the chapter over the night before, you’ll get better results if you read it before you go to bed. Your subconscious really likes to avoid conflict, so if you provide it with a problem (like a quiz) and a solution (the chapter you read), your brain will chew on it while you’re asleep, and it will stay fresher in your mind.
If you wake up an hour earlier than normal and read the chapter first thing, you’ll get similar results. It works. I assume that it’s because your mind is not busy processing everything that’s happened that day.
5. Learn 10-15 minutes at a time— This may seem counterintuitive since you’re in school all day learning stuff, but hear me out. When you hear something, or a thought enters your head about how something works, don’t just brush it off, take 2 minutes to do a google or youtube search and look it up. It takes a lot less effort to learn a little at a time, than to have an all night cram session.