The last few weeks of the semester can be hectic and stressful. You’ve got a limited amount of time to get a lot of studying done, so it’s important to be as efficient as possible. To help you maximize your study time, we wanted to make sure you knew about the following three learning strategies. These strategies are proven to techniques to help you increase your retention and master large amounts of information. Start incorporating them into your finals study schedule to make the most of the time you have remaining!
- Interleaving – this learning technique involves mixing in different kinds of problems and topics at a single study session, rather than focusing on a single subject. Interleaving forces you to switch quickly between topics and demands that you stay focused and attentive. Switching between topics can also relieve some of the tedium that comes with long study periods. You can incorporate interleaving into your schedule by mixing up the classes you study for in a single day and, within each class, by mixing up the specific topics you study at a single session.
- Spaced Review – perhaps you’ve heard us mention this one before? It happens to be one of our favorite learning techniques because it is so effective at improving retention of the material. Spaced review is exactly what it says – studying information at regularly spaced intervals. If you need to memorize a large amount of information and remember that material for a considerable period, spaced review is much more effective than cramming. Although some amount of cramming may be unavoidable around finals time, you should try to incorporate spaced review as early as possible in the semester so that your focus leading up to finals can be on practicing your application of the rules, rather than memorizing. To incorporate spaced review into your schedule, make sure you study all topics and subjects periodically at regularly intervals. Your intervals may be monthly, weekly, or daily, depending on how much you have to remember and how close you are to the testing date.
- Retrieval without Prompting – this learning strategy involves retrieving the information from memory without relying on any cues to jog your memory. When we rely on cues – such as looking at your outline or class notes – we can fool ourselves into thinking that we’ve memorized more than we actually have. If you force yourself to recite the information without referring to a study aid or other prompt, you’ll know that you have the information memorized and can feel confident about your ability to recall the information when it’s test time. To incorporate retrieval into your study schedule, force yourself to recite the key concepts in your own words without relying on outlines, flashcards, or other prompts.