Two Simple Tips for Studying Smarter
Ever felt frustrated after an exam because you feel like you did poorly even though you studied so hard? It is not an uncommon feeling. What you (and even your teachers!) might not realize is that studying harder does not always increase your learning as much as you think it might. This is a place where psychology can be a game-changer!
By understanding how the mind works, psychologists have discovered ways to help you retain information more effectively.
Jeanne Ormrod, an educational psychologist, includes a wealth of research-based learning suggestions in her book Our Minds, Our Memories: Enhancing Thinking and Learning at All Ages1. Here are two suggestions that you can implement right now to improve your learning and performance in almost ANY academic area:
Make meaning. Our brains are wired for making sense of the things we encounter in the world. You can imagine that it can be hard to learn and remember information for your history exam when everything just seems like bits of random information. Instead of letting facts and concepts stay random and disconnected, ask yourself lots of why and how questions. “Why did so many soldiers die in the Revolutionary War when they were not even fighting?” “How did differences in media coverage impact presidential campaigns in the nineteenth and early twentieth century?” In most fields, you can ask yourself the simple question, “how does this new information relate to things I already know?”
Practice smart repetition. Do you know that all three-hour study blocks are not created equal? Here is an example: Todd and Kari are both setting up their schedules to study for their Spanish tests during the semester. The tests are on Wednesdays, so Kari sets aside time for three-hour study sessions on Tuesday nights. Todd also sets up three hours for studying, but he breaks up his sessions into 30-minute blocks across the six days leading up to the tests. On the first test, Todd and Kari both earn similar scores, but we all know that Spanish builds through the semester; you cannot just forget all those words you studied at the beginning of the semester. As the semester goes on, Kari is likely to forget most of what she has studied during her three-hour cram sessions. Todd, however, distributed his practice, so he will remember the information for a long time.
Do not study harder, study smarter!
This is just a glimpse of what you can learn when you earn a Christian psychology degree. Find out more about Huntington University’s psychology program at huntington.edu/Psychology.
Updated for 2023 by Jordan Lynden